Feature Stories

2014 Features

2013 Features

Transporting Firewood Can Spread Tree-Killing Insects

August 27, 2014

Firewood is on the minds of many Coloradans as fall approaches, with some stocking up on cords for winter fuel while others plan on procuring a few armloads for hunting trips.

Emerald ash borer (larva shown here) is an invasive insect that was first detected in Colorado last fall.

But because of the considerable impact emerald ash borer (EAB), native bark beetles and other insects can have on Colorado forests, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to be sure people are aware of the risks associated with transporting firewood.

“There are serious risks associated with moving firewood, from further spreading native insects like spruce beetle to introducing exotic tree pests into our community forests,” said Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager.

The transportation of firewood is a common cause for the accidental introduction of harmful tree insects and diseases to new areas. EAB, an invasive insect responsible for the death of millions of ash trees in 24 states and Canada, was detected in Colorado for the first time last fall. The insect's arrival in the state, for now confirmed only in the City of Boulder, was most likely due to the human movement of raw ash wood. A quarantine is now in place in Boulder County and two small neighboring areas to try and prevent the human-assisted spread of EAB, because an estimated 15 percent or more of Colorado's urban trees are ash.

Insects and diseases harmful to our native and urban forests, often hidden away under the bark, can hitch a ride on cut wood from both living and dead trees. Wood says besides EAB, pests of primary concern related to moving firewood include the gypsy moth and Asian longhorned beetle, which have not yet had a significant impact in Colorado, and thousand cankers disease, which has killed most of the black walnut trees in some urban Front Range communities and was recently detected in northeast Colorado.

The CSFS offers several tips to help protect trees and forests:

  • Burn firewood at the location where you buy or cut it. Leave behind any wood you don't burn.
  • Don't transport potentially infested or diseased wood across state or county lines. If you have questions about whether wood might contain insects or diseases of concern, contact a local CSFS office for information.
  • Never transport any regulated wood materials out of a quarantine area (in some cases, such as with the EAB quarantine in Colorado, this is illegal).
  • Ask firewood dealers questions about the origin of the logs, and always try to buy local. The best option is anything labeled with the Colorado Forest Products logo.
  • If buying firewood that has been declared free of pest concerns, be sure it has been debarked and is thoroughly dried or "cured" before transporting locally.
  • Learn to identify the symptoms of common pests in the type of wood you plan to burn.

For more information about insects and diseases that threaten Colorado trees, contact a local CSFS district office or visit our Forest Insects & Diseases web page.

For more about the risks of moving firewood, go to www.dontmovefirewood.org.

CSFS Releases Spruce Beetle Publication

August 21, 2014

An agent of subalpine change, the spruce beetle is a native species in Colorado's spruce forest ecosystem. Endemic populations are always present, and epidemics are a natural part of the changing forest.

The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado have been heavily infested with spruce beetle. Photo: R. Klatt

There usually are long intervals between such events as insect and disease epidemics and wildfires, giving spruce forests time to regenerate. Prior to their occurrence, the potential impacts of these natural disturbances can be reduced through proactive forest management.

The spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) is responsible for the death of more spruce trees in North America than any other natural agent.

Spruce beetle populations range from Alaska and Newfoundland to as far south as Arizona and New Mexico. The subalpine Engelmann spruce is the primary host tree, but the beetles will infest any spruce tree species within their geographical range, including blue spruce. In Colorado, the beetles are most commonly observed in high-elevation spruce forests above 9,000 feet.

Read more in our August 2014 publication, Spruce Beetle Quick Guide (493 KB PDF).

Walnut Tree Disease Spreads to Northeastern Colorado

August 13, 2014

Thousand cankers disease, a relatively new disease to Colorado that is lethal to infested black walnut trees, has now arrived in the northeast plains.

Thousand cankers disease is caused by a fungus carried by the walnut twig beetle. Photo: W. Ciesla

The disease was confirmed in Fort Morgan through cooperative efforts of the Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado State University Extension, City of Fort Morgan and the CSU Plant Diagnostics Clinic, and likely arrived in the community through the movement of infested wood.

After being introduced to Colorado in recent years, thousand cankers disease has caused significant tree mortality in many of the state's urban forests, primarily along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo.

Converse to emerald ash borer, another recently arrived Colorado tree pest that spread westward across the Great Plains via the transport of infested wood, thousand cankers disease has the potential to spread in the opposite direction, to the Eastern U.S. – potentially impacting large numbers of commercially valuable walnut trees.

“In the Midwestern states, black walnut trees have significant economic value,” said Boyd Lebeda, acting district forester for the CSFS Fort Morgan District. “So the spread of this disease could be damaging not only here, but to tree resources and related markets in other states.”

Thousand cankers disease is caused by a fungus carried by the walnut twig beetle. Once the fungus is introduced to a tree, it causes small dead areas in the bark called cankers. Trees are eventually killed by overwhelming attacks of walnut twig beetles and subsequent cankers that girdle branches. Currently, there are no effective methods for saving trees with the disease, and many states east of Colorado already have quarantines prohibiting the movement of walnut material.

The CSFS, CSU Extension and partner agencies have been in the process of monitoring the state's black walnut trees for the past few years, travelling through communities in eastern Colorado to record tree locations and current conditions.

Landowners with black walnut trees in Morgan County and elsewhere in Colorado should inspect them regularly for symptoms including sparse foliage, leaf yellowing or wilting, branch dieback and excessive staining of the bark surface. Any suspect trees should be reported to the nearest CSFS or CSU Extension office.

Anyone who has a black walnut tree removed within the City of Fort Morgan can contact the city at (970) 542-6311 to determine the best way to dispose of the tree.

Everyone can help minimize the spread of this and other tree diseases, including emerald ash borer, by not transporting raw wood – including logs, firewood, lumber and wood chips – to new locations.

For more information about thousand cankers disease, please view the publication, Thousand Cankers Disease of Black Walnut (335 KB PDF).

Colorado Receives $250,000 Grant to Promote Wood-Energy Facilities, Technologies

July 18, 2014

This week, the USDA announced that Colorado is the recipient of a quarter-million-dollar grant to promote the development of wood-to-energy projects in the state.

Under the grant, private, state and federal organizations will work together to stimulate the development of wood-energy projects in Colorado. Photo: D. Bihn

The grant will help foresters and researchers address forest health and wildfire concerns by accelerating the establishment of wood-energy facilities and technologies that use woody biomass.

The Colorado State Forest Service received the three-year, $250,000 grant from the USDA Forest Service, Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC) through a second round of funding from the national program.

“We look forward to the opportunity to increase the use of woody biomass in Colorado, which will help improve the health and resilience of our forests,” said Tim Reader, utilization and marketing forester for the CSFS-administered Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program (CoWood).

Under the grant, private, state and federal organizations will work together to stimulate the development of wood-energy projects in Colorado. The funding will help establish wood-energy facilities that obtain and utilize woody biomass from National Forest and adjacent lands and communities, through direct technical and financial assistance, education and outreach. Specific goals include strategically identifying and engaging new wood-energy candidate communities and facilities, providing technical workshops, and developing a new e-book application to help facilities become biomass-ready.

To promote wood-to-energy efforts, the CSFS is leading a team which includes representatives from the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Bihn Systems LLC, New West Business Development and USDA Forest Service Region 2.

More information about the Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program.

Tips for Watering Trees During Drought

July 1, 2014

Despite heavy rains over parts of Colorado in recent months, persistent drought conditions have parched the soil over much of the state, stressing even irrigated lawns and urban landscape trees.

Adequately watering your trees is the best way to ensure optimum growth and vigor during the summer months. Photo: Colorado Tree Coalition

During these periods of drought, homeowners should consider supplemental watering to keep their trees healthy.

“Adequately watering your trees is the best way to ensure optimum growth and vigor during the summer months,” said Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service. “Dry trees become susceptible to root and branch die-back and subsequent insect and disease problems.”

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor map, released last week, indicates that approximately 50 percent of Colorado is currently experiencing some form of drought – with some southern portions of the state under "severe" or worse drought classifications.

The CSFS offers the following tips to keep trees healthy during summer drought:

  • Water a wide area. Tree root systems, unlike carrots, may spread two to three times wider than the height of the tree, with most absorbing roots in the top foot of soil. Apply water to soak the entire area underneath the full span of a tree's branches.
  • Water slowly. To ensure deep penetration, use a deep root fork (inserted 8 inches or less), soaker hose on low setting or soft spray wand to apply water slowly to the full area.
  • Keep the yard green. Trees located in irrigated lawns generally do not require additional water, as long as the area surrounding the tree receives adequate moisture. Conversely, a dry, yellow yard means the roots of any trees present are also dry.
  • Focus on non-irrigated trees. Trees that do not receive water from sprinkler systems or irrigation require additional water. Every week, apply 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree trunk diameter. Water newly planted trees even more frequently; larger trees, which have extensive root systems, can be watered less frequently.
  • Mulch. Mulch is an inexpensive solution to retain soil moisture and save water. Apply 4 inches of organic mulch onto bare soil within 2 to 3 feet from the base of the trunk (removing any grass first, if necessary). Do not allow the mulch to directly contact the trunk.

More information about watering, planting and the general care of trees is available in the Trees section of our website.

Also, please visit the Colorado Tree Coalition website to view a guide to tree watering in dry climates.

Black Forest Fire Anniversary Highlights Need for Mitigation Efforts to Protect Homes

June 9, 2014

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Black Forest Fire, the most destructive wildfire in state history in terms of property losses.

Reducing fuels in the wildland-urban interface is critical to protecting life and property. Photo: B. Cotton

The Colorado State Forest Service wants to remind landowners to prepare for wildfires before they arrive. While there is no guarantee firefighters will be able to save any one home from a wildfire, the odds increase if landowners create defensible space, said Lisa Mason, the Fire Adapted Communities program manager for the CSFS.

Defensible space is the area around homes or other structures that has been modified to reduce fire hazard. Addressing defensible space not only reduces the risk of home loss, but also improves safety for residents if they have to evacuate and for emergency crews responding to a wildfire.

“Homeowners working together around adjacent homes and throughout communities will be even more effective at reducing wildfire risk,” Mason said.

The CSFS offers numerous resources and recommendations to help private landowners create defensible space, including:

  • Remove all flammable vegetation within at least 15 feet of any part of a home or other structure, including decks.
  • Thin standing trees within 100-200 feet of all structures.
  • Prune off tree branches to a height of at least 10 feet from the ground.
  • Keep grasses and weeds surrounding the home mowed to a height of less than six inches.
  • Stack firewood and locate propane tanks at least 30 feet from and uphill of structures.
  • Clear pine needles from gutters and trim overhanging branches.

CSFS online resources include free publications about defensible space, FireWise design and construction, Community Wildfire Protection Plans and the Firewise Communities/USA® program.

Please visit our site for comprehensive guidance on protecting homes and communities from wildfire or call your local CSFS district or field office.

School in the Woods/Edith Wolford Elementary Plant Seedlings in Black Forest

May 12, 2014

On May 15, School in the Woods students, parents and teachers will plant 400 trees at Black Forest State Land Section 16 in an effort to reforest areas burned by the 2013 Black Forest Fire.

Jon Wuerth, School in the Woods director, Shawna Crocker, Colorado PLT coordinator and Delene Hoffner, School in the Woods teacher, at the planting event.

Through an American Forest Foundation and National Project Learning Tree (PLT) grant, the Colorado State Forest Service was recently able to provide School in the Woods and Edith Wolford Elementary the free seedling trees for a community planting and reforestation project.

Twelve additional communities throughout the state also received free seedling trees from PLT for a wide range of educational planting projects.

“The opportunity to get free seedling trees through this program benefits both the community and the students,” said Jon Wuerth, director at School in the Woods. “The students were ecstatic about being able to participate in a planting project and continue to learn so much in the process.”

Colorado Project Learning Tree provides professional development for educators and uses the forest as a window on the world to increase students' understanding of the environment and to help develop their ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues. For more information on PLT resources for teachers, go to www.coloradoplt.org.

Emerald Ash Borer: What Colorado Communities Need to Know

April 21, 2014

With the highly destructive emerald ash borer (EAB) now confirmed in Colorado, many homeowners have questions about their ash trees and the risks presented by the invasive tree insect.

A recognizable sign of EAB infestation is D-shaped exit holes on the bark of ash trees. Photo: J. Spokowsky, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Late last year EAB was detected in the City of Boulder.

The insect is already responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in more than 20 states. It poses a serious threat to many of Colorado's urban forests, where ash species comprise an estimated 15-20 percent of all trees.

To help homeowners and communities make decisions about dealing with the pest, the Colorado State Forest Service recently released a new Quick Guide about EAB in Colorado.

Current Recommendations for Colorado

  • Determine now if you have any ash trees. The first step to dealing with EAB is identifying susceptible host trees on the landscape, which include virtually any species and varieties of ash (genus Fraxinus). Ash trees have diamond-shaped bark ridges, compound leaves with 5 to 11 leaflets, and their leaflets, buds and branches grow directly opposite from one another.
  • Recognize signs of EAB infestation. Homeowners with ash trees should be on the lookout for signs of EAB infestation, which include: thinning of upper branches and twigs, loss of leaves, D-shaped 1/8-inch holes on the bark, vertical bark splitting or increased woodpecker activity. Any suspect trees should be reported to the Colorado Department of Agriculture at (888) 248-5535 or email CAPS.program@state.co.us.
  • Be aware of EAB imposters. Other insects like lilac/ash borer, ash bark beetle and flat-headed appletree borer may look like EAB or cause similar tree symptoms. For more information, see the new EAB Quick Guide on the CSFS website.
  • Know when treatments are (and aren't) a good option. Homeowners have the option to apply chemical treatments this spring to help protect high-value trees, but treatments are not recommended more than 5 miles from a positive detection. Currently, the only confirmed in-state detection has been in the City of Boulder.
  • Realize that treatments are necessary to save impacted trees. All ash trees, regardless of species, size or age, can be infested by EAB. Infested trees will not survive without treatments, but treatments can be effective even in infested trees, if infestation is detected early enough.
  • Avoid planting ash trees in Colorado. Ash trees have been widely planted here, but due to the risk of EAB, future plantings are not recommended. However, this spring is a good time to consider planting diverse tree species where ash trees growing now may be lost in the future.
  • Prevent further spread of EAB. Don't ever transport ash firewood, or any other untreated ash wood products, to other locations. Boulder County and small adjacent areas are now under a federal EAB quarantine, allowing for stiff fines for those who move untreated wood from the area.

For more information about EAB infestation, treatment options and ash tree identification, view the EAB Quick Guide online or pick up a free copy at the nearest CSFS district or field office.

For current information about EAB in Colorado, including the current quarantine, go to www.eabcolorado.com.

Event Offers Scouts Opportunity to Experience Forest Stewardship

April 16, 2014

On Saturday, April 19, Colorado State Forest Service volunteers joined CSU students, the Society of American Foresters and additional partnering agencies at the "Forestry Field Day" to teach Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts about many forestry topics.

Scouts learn about forest products from a CSFS volunteer at last year's Forestry Field Day.

The annual event draws hundreds of scouts from across Colorado and Wyoming.

This is the first year that both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (ages 9 and up) were invited to participate in the field day held at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. More than 200 scouts and 30 volunteers participate in the event.

Scouts learned about proper forest management, tree and plant identification, Colorado wood products, forest insects and disease, and wildfire. They also observed trained sawyers from the CSU Forest Field Practices Class fell trees, skid logs with ATVs, and cut boards with a small portable sawmill.

Scouts had the opportunity to participate in a community service project.

For more information on how to volunteer at CSFS sponsored events like Forestry Field Day, visit the CSFS Volunteer Program web page.

CSFS Accepting Proposals to Protect Private Forestlands

April 10, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service is now accepting Forest Legacy Program proposals from Colorado landowners.

Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, Larimer County, Colorado.

The program authorizes the USDA Forest Service or the CSFS to purchase permanent conservation easements on private forestlands to protect environmentally important areas and prevent those lands from being converted to non-forest uses.

The program provides an opportunity for private landowners to retain ownership and management of their land, while receiving compensation for unrealized development rights.

Forestlands that contain important scenic, cultural, recreation and water resources, including fish and wildlife habitat and other ecological values, and that support traditional forest uses, will receive priority.

Landowners who elect to participate in the program are required to follow a stewardship management plan approved by the CSFS. Activities consistent with the management plan, including timber harvesting, grazing, and recreation activities are permitted.

The Colorado State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee will evaluate proposals and recommend to the state forester those proposals that have sufficient merit to forward to the USDA Forest Service. Forwarded proposals will then compete at a regional level; those selected at the regional level will compete nationally for funding.

For additional information and to download the application, visit our Funding Assistance web page.

Completed proposals must be submitted by mail and received no later than 4 p.m. on July 25, 2014, for federal fiscal year 2016 funding.

Colorado's Fire Ecology Institute Receives Environmental Ed Award

March 13, 2014

The Fire Ecology Institute for Educators, offered each year by the Colorado State Forest Service, will be honored at the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education's 2013 Awards for Excellence in Environmental Education.

The Fire Ecology Institute for Educators is a weeklong, rigorous exploration of fire and forest ecology.

The award was created to celebrate exceptional and inclusive environmental education programs in Colorado.

Since 2001, the Fire Ecology Institute for Educators has provided a weeklong, rigorous training workshop for teachers and natural resource educators that explores wildland fire and forest ecology. Since its inception, the program has trained more than 300 educators and reached over 9,000 students.

“There are no programs similar to the Fire Ecology Institute in Colorado, in terms of content, student reach, length or program depth. It is an honor to have this unique program recognized through an Award for Excellence in Environmental Education,” said Shawna Crocker, Project Learning Tree coordinator for the CSFS.

The institute is one of only 10 awardees statewide. All recipients will be showcased at CAEE's 16th Annual Awards Celebration held on March 21 at the University of Denver. For more information, contact CAEE at (303) 273-9527 or visit www.caee.org.

For additional information about the Fire Ecology Institute for Educators, visit http://coloradoplt.org and click on “Our Programs.”

Late Winter the Best Time to Prune Trees

March 4, 2014

Late winter, from mid-February until early March, is the best time to prune most urban trees. Trees are still dormant at this time of year and, unlike in early winter, wound closure will be rapid if pruning occurs just prior to the time new growth emerges.

Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager, demonstrates proper pruning techniques at a workshop.

Although some elms, silver maples, birch and walnut trees exude sap if pruned in the late winter or early spring, this should not harm the tree.

“Applying proper pruning techniques at the correct time of year is an essential component of maintaining our urban forests,” said Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service. “By being proactive and pruning trees during the late winter, residents can help maintain the health, appearance and safety of their trees for the long-term.”

The CSFS offers the following pruning tips:

  • Know what you want to accomplish before you get out the saw – don't remove any branches without a reason.
  • Develop or maintain a dominant leader, and don't cut off the tops of trees.
  • Remove any torn, dead or broken branches.
  • Prevent branches below the permanent canopy from growing upright or too large. • Space the main branches along a dominant trunk.
  • Keep all branches less than one-half the trunk diameter.
  • Retain branches with wider angles to the main trunk, as compared to those with tighter angles to the main trunk.
  • Always prune at the branch collar – the point where one branch joins a larger one.
  • Limit pruning of newly planted trees to the removal of dead, damaged or crossing limbs, or those interfering with the main leader.
  • Avoid removing more than 25 percent of a tree's branches in any one year.
  • Emerald ash borer, an invasive insect responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in more than 20 states, has now been detected in Colorado. Urban foresters now recommend close inspection of ash trees, especially during any pruning activities. For more information visit http://www.eabcolorado.com.
  • If the job requires running a chainsaw overhead or removing large branches/entire trees, contact an insured, licensed, certified arborist. A list of these professionals for your area can be found at http://www.isa-arbor.com.

For more information, visit the Trees section of our website.

Annual Forest Health Report Details Threats, Opportunities for Colorado Forests

February 19, 2014

Today, the Colorado State Forest Service released the 2013 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests at the annual Joint Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Hearing at the State Capitol.

The report (2.1 MB PDF) details forest health concerns throughout the state and the opportunities available for landowners to mitigate their effects.

Each year, the Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests provides information to the Colorado General Assembly and residents of Colorado about the health and condition of forests across the state.

The report provides recent data, figures and maps detailing major insect and disease concerns in the state, including the expansion of spruce beetle activity and the detection of emerald ash borer – an invasive pest first discovered in Colorado in 2013, which poses serious risks to the state's urban forest health.

This is the 13th consecutive year the CSFS has produced a report on the state of Colorado's forests and the actions it is taking to mitigate forest health concerns. The theme of this year's report is “Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Opportunities,” with an emphasis on the link between the forest health risks of today and the opportunities to attenuate those risks in the future.

The principal source of information for the forest health report is the annual aerial forest health survey, a cooperative project between the CSFS and the Rocky Mountain Region of the USDA Forest Service. Other data sources include field inspections, CSFS contacts with forest landowners and special surveys designed to help ensure early detection of potentially invasive insect species.

“Colorado land managers continue to face unprecedented challenges in their pursuit to foster healthy, thriving forests,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service.

Lester said that insect and disease outbreaks, devastating wildfires, and recent floods have brought to light the necessity of working together to actively manage Colorado forests.

Copies of the 2013 Forest Health Report are available at CSFS district offices or in the publications section of our website.

Insect & Disease Update - Supplement to the 2013 Report

The 2013 report also includes a special online supplement, the 2013 Colorado Forest Insect and Disease Update (1.4 MB PDF), which is a comprehensive listing of the damaging agents of Colorado's forests. This supplement is only available in the publications section of our website.

Colorado Project Learning Tree Educators Invited to Apply for Free Seedling Trees

February 12, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service is accepting applications from all Project Learning Tree-trained educators to receive free seedling trees from its Fort Collins nursery.

Planting seedlings in burn areas helps prevent soil erosion and runoff into rivers and streams.

Interested teachers can apply to receive seedlings for planting projects on public or private land, or as awards to students for events and contests.

The purpose of the Free Seedlings for Educators Program, which is funded through a grant from the American Forest Foundation and Project Learning Tree, is to encourage Colorado teachers to become certified by PLT while promoting student involvement in tree-planting and forest health projects.

“Free seedlings have never been available in the past, so this opportunity should encourage more Colorado educators to get certified by Project Learning Tree,” said Shawna Crocker, CSFS Project Learning Tree coordinator. “Educators can then put their PLT certification to work by engaging their students in an environmental education activity or planting project using the seedlings.”

Trees will be available for spring or fall plantings in quantities of up to 200 per teacher. Applicants may also request a $100 stipend to help pay for additional project expenses.

Trees are approximately 12 inches high and are grown at the CSFS Nursery in Fort Collins. CSFS district foresters will be available to offer awardees advice on species selection, planting methods and long-term tree care.

How to Apply

Applicants must agree to promote proposed planting projects in their community and attend a PLT workshop before receiving their seedling tree shipment. Any Colorado PLT workshop offered throughout the year qualifies; the next workshop will be offered March 29 and additional upcoming trainings are listed online at the Colorado PLT website. Applicants who have attended a workshop in the last ten years are not required to attend another.

For additional information, to register for a workshop or to obtain an application packet, go to www.coloradoplt.org.

Completed applications must be submitted by e-mail and received no later than 5 p.m. on March 21. Applications will be reviewed by a CSFS committee, and successful applicants will be notified by March 30.

Project Learning Tree provides professional development for educators and uses the forest as a "window" on the world to increase students' understanding of our environment and to help develop their ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues. The Colorado program has been coordinated by the Colorado State Forest Service since 1984, training 500-800 educators per year in workshops around the state. In turn, Colorado teachers reach approximately 15,000 students annually.

US Forest Service and CSFS Announce 2013 Aerial Forest Health Survey Results

January 30, 2014

Today, the US Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service released the results of the annual aerial forest health survey in Colorado.

Active mountain pine beetle infestations persisted in mixed lodgepole/ponderosa pine forests in several areas of the northern Front Range, including the Buckhorn Creek Basin in Larimer County. Photo: William Ciesla

The survey indicates that the spread of the mountain pine beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically, while the spruce beetle outbreak continues to expand. Each summer the agencies work together to aerially monitor insect and disease-caused tree mortality or damage across Colorado forestland.

Mountain Pine Beetle

The mountain pine beetle epidemic slowed again in 2013, with the lowest acreage of active infestation observed in 15 years. Statewide, mountain pine beetle was active on 97,000 acres in 2013. This brings the total infestation to 3.4 million acres in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996.

Spruce Beetle

The spruce beetle outbreak was active on 398,000 acres across the state, expanding by 216,000 new acres in 2013, compared to 183,000 new acres in 2012. The total area affected by this beetle since 1996 has reached more than 1.1 million acres.

Aspen

Conversely, aspen forest conditions in the state have continued to improve. The aerial survey indicates that although there is continued mortality following drought in the early 2000s, the decline has slowed, with only 1,200 acres impacted in 2013.

Forestry Agencies Help Protect Colorado's Forested Areas

Forestry agencies have a key role in sustaining forest ecosystems, which provide many benefits to the people of Colorado and many surrounding states. Whether progress is measured by the reduction of large-scale wildfires, timber harvested or number of forest acres treated; the outcome is the same: healthy and resilient forests, and the protection of forested watersheds.

While the US Forest Service takes action on National Forest lands, the CSFS works with private landowners to help them meet their management objectives to achieve healthy forests. The CSFS will release a new publication on the spruce beetle by April, and in 2013 held educational public meetings about the beetle for citizens in Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Lake, Las Animas, Pueblo and Saguache counties.

For more highlights on the 2013 aerial detection survey, visit the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region website.

Additional information will be available in late February with the release of the 2013 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests.

CSFS Launches Natural Resources Grants Database

January 21, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service has just launched a comprehensive grants and assistance database for community groups, landowners, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and others to search for programs that promote the health and welfare of Colorado's natural resources.

Colorado's diverse natural resources are important to recreation and tourism, water and air quality, and local and state economies.

The online Natural Resources Grants and Assistance Database offers a free, searchable index of grant opportunities that pertain to many natural resources topics; examples include agroforestry, education, forest restoration, research, urban forestry and wildfire mitigation.

In addition to offering information on programs administered through the CSFS, the database includes opportunities sponsored by federal, state and private organizations that are relevant to Colorado and its residents.

“This database was developed largely in response to suggestions from our cooperators, who expressed the need for a centralized resource that helps them identify funding opportunities to achieve their forest stewardship goals,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the CSFS. “Ultimately, their actions will help protect Colorado's diverse natural resources, which are important to recreation and tourism, water and air quality, and local and state economies.”

The database currently includes more than 50 active grant and assistance programs, and will be updated as new programs become available. This resource focuses primarily on opportunities for Colorado; however, funding opportunities also may apply regionally, nationally or, in some cases, internationally.

After identifying a program of interest, users can access detailed information on each grant or assistance opportunity, including:

  • general program description and eligibility requirements;
  • deadlines and how to apply;
  • required match or cost-share;
  • links to detailed program information; and
  • relevant contact information.

To access the database directly, click here. The tool is free, and users are not required to register or create a password to access the system.

A link to the database also is available on our Funding Assistance web page.

Funding Now Available for Forest Restoration Projects

January 14, 2014

Colorado landowners and communities that want to protect forested areas from severe wildfire and other forest health concerns may be eligible for grant funding from the Colorado State Forest Service.

Chimney Hollow forest restoration project, Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.

The CSFS is now accepting proposals for the Colorado Forest Restoration Grant Program, which helps fund projects that demonstrate a community-based approach to forest restoration. Proposals are due by March 20, and must address protection of water supplies or related infrastructure, as well as the restoration of forested watersheds.

Projects should focus on mitigating threats that affect watershed health, such as the build-up of vegetative fuels that increase the risk for severe wildfires, which could negatively impact watersheds. Specific project goals also could include preserving older trees, replanting deforested areas and improving the use of small-diameter trees as forest products. Projects are encouraged to engage the Colorado Youth Corps to supply labor, to help connect Colorado youth to the importance of protecting watersheds and communities.

“This program encourages local stakeholders to collaborate and develop forest restoration projects that promote active management of Colorado forests,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the CSFS. “These community efforts will help improve the health of Colorado's forest watersheds while simultaneously reducing the threat of high-intensity fires and improving utilization of forest products.”

Projects must be located in communities with a CSFS-approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The state can fund up to 60 percent of each awarded project; grant recipients are required to match at least 40 percent of the total project cost through cash or in-kind contributions, which can include federal funds.

An interdisciplinary technical advisory panel, convened by the CSFS in partnership with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, will review project applications. The CSFS will notify successful applicants by this summer.

Applications and additional information about the Forest Restoration Grant Program are available at local CSFS District offices or on our Funding Assistance web page.

Seedling Tree Applications Now Available

January 7, 2014

The Colorado State Forest Service is now accepting applications on a first-come, first-serve basis for more than 40 varieties of low-cost seedling trees and shrubs from its Fort Collins nursery. Orders will be available for pickup or statewide delivery early this spring.

Seedlings growing in the CSFS Nursery greenhouse.

Coloradans who are interested in conservation goals such as creating natural windbreaks, improving wildlife habitat or reforesting properties impacted by wildfire or floods are eligible to purchase the low-cost seedlings.

“The nursery prides itself on growing a variety of species suitable for Colorado's diverse landscapes,” said CSFS Nursery Manager Josh Stolz. “Colorado-grown species are adaptable, hardy and ideal for wildfire recovery, riparian restoration and a variety of other conservation uses.”

The CSFS seedling tree program is designed to encourage Colorado farmers, ranchers and rural landowners to plant seedling trees and shrubs for conservation purposes. Through a cooperative effort with Colorado State University Extension offices and county conservation districts throughout the state, approximately 5,000 Coloradans plant seedling trees each year.

Seedling trees have many uses and benefits, including:

  • Wind/snow control to protect roadways and livestock
  • Enhanced wildlife habitat and reforestation
  • Increased property values
  • Energy conservation and reduced utility bills
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Reduced soil erosion

To purchase seedling trees from the CSFS, landowners must agree to use them for conservation purposes only, and not for landscaping or resale. Stolz said interested landowners should order as soon as possible, while the greatest selection of tree and shrub species is still available.

For more information about the CSFS seedling tree program, please contact your local CSFS district office, visit our Buying Trees web page or call the CSFS Nursery at (970) 491-8429.

Students Devise Novel Way to Spread FireWise Plant Seeds

January 7, 2014

Four Colorado sixth-graders came up with a design to distribute FireWise seeds in the state's forests to reduce the risk of wildfires. Their design was homemade bird feeders.

An all-natural bird feeder designed by the Master Mindstormers team. Photo: John Reasoner

In November, participants from the FIRST® Lego League team called the Master Mindstormers visited the Colorado State Forest Service Outreach Division in Fort Collins.

FIRST®, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a worldwide organization that provides an opportunity for kids ages 9 to 18 to compete in areas related to science and technology.

The 2013 competition theme was "Nature's Fury," and teams were required to choose a natural disaster, identify a problem and find a solution. The Master Mindstormers team chose Colorado wildfires as their topic and are focusing on strategies to reduce the risk of wildfires in Colorado.

During the team's visit with the CSFS Outreach Division, they learned about wildfires and defensible space through discussions and an activity from the FireWorks Curriculum called the "Fire Triangle in Wildlands." They also volunteered their time to help build FireWise seed packets, which are mixes of fire-resistant wildflower seeds given to landowners to help reduce potential wildfire fuels through landscaping.

Colorado sixth-grade Master Mindstormers team create all-natural bird feeders. Photo: John Reasoner

In order to lessen the threat of wildfires in Colorado, the Master Mindstormers have designed a method to disperse FireWise seeds. They came up with the creative idea of building an all-natural bird feeder as their method of dispersal. The feeder is made by taking pinecones, covering them in a natural substance such as honey or nut butter, and then rolling them in FireWise seed mix and bird seed.

Their idea was that after the birds eat and pass the seeds, nature will do the rest. They stated in a letter to Governor Hickenlooper that “the birds or other animals would get food to eat, introduce these flowers to the environment, and make Colorado a more fire-resistant state.” The team hopes to distribute the feeders in Colorado forests themselves, as well as recruit other classes or groups to get involved in making and distributing the feeders.

On Nov. 23, 2013, the Master Mindstormers took second place with their idea at the FIRST® Lego League qualifier competition at the University of Colorado at the Denver-Auraria campus. They received the Judge's Award at the state tournament on Saturday, December 14.

Congratulations, Master Mindstormers!

To view the state tournament results, visit http://fll.coloradofirst.org/news/championship-awards-2013.

CSFS Provides Christmas Trees for State Capitol, CSU

December 2013

The State Capitol Christmas tree, lit by Gov. Hickenlooper in a ceremony in the North Foyer, was provided for the third year in a row by the Colorado State Forest Service Fort Collins District.

2013 State Capitol Christmas tree.

Gold Star Tree of Honor

The 32-foot subalpine fir is themed the "Gold Star Tree of Honor" to pay tribute to military members lost in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families. Colorado National Guard soldiers and their families decorated the State Capitol tree, and decorative boughs trimmed off the tree were given to Gold Star families or used by the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to craft wreaths for National Guard personnel deployed throughout the world.

Gold Star families are the survivors of fallen servicemembers “who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations.”

“It's our way of giving them a piece of the tree to take home,” said Janelle Darnell, DMVA chief of protocol for the Office of The Adjutant General.

Improving Forest Health

Fresh-cut Christmas trees provided by the CSFS Fort Collins District also were distributed to the Colorado State University President's Office and other CSU offices. CSFS foresters selectively cut the trees as part of ongoing management efforts to improve forest health on State Trust Land in northern Larimer County.

Local Charity Cuts, Delivers 300 Christmas Trees

Gift of a Green Christmas Tree, a Fort Collins-based charity that each year provides hundreds of free Christmas trees to brighten the holiday season for families, senior citizens and others with limited resources, will focus its efforts on families impacted by the September floods.

CSFS Forester Greg Zausen with a lodgepole pine tree that was harvested from Pingree Park.

Brightening the Holiday Season

“With the ever-present need in our communities to brighten each holiday season, we want to make sure we continue to reach out to everyone we can,” said Ryan Behm, who heads the charity. “This program is not just about the families who receive a tree. It's also about the volunteers who gain something positive from the experience.”

Harvesting 300 Trees

On Nov. 23, the Colorado State Forest Service, Boy Scouts and other volunteers harvested up to 300 young lodgepole pine trees from a 19-year-old burn scar in Pingree Park – Colorado State University's mountain campus and outdoor classroom for natural resources students. Trees were only cut in designated locations to improve forest health on the campus.

“We're actually helping out the forest here, by thinning the stand to provide less-crowded growing conditions for the remaining trees,” said Boyd Lebeda, district forester for the CSFS Fort Collins District.

On Dec. 7, volunteers delivered the trees to families throughout the northern Front Range, including the communities of Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland. Donated lighting, ornaments and a stand are included with each tree.

Behm started Gift of a Green Christmas Tree in 2003, delivering 23 trees that year. The organization is now part of the broader 501c3 organization Northern Colorado Shares, of which Behm is president.

Last year, the program provided more than 300 trees to families along the northern Front Range. The charity obtains most of the recipients' names from United Way of Larimer County 2-1-1, House of Neighborly Service and similar organizations that support families in need. This year, many of the recipient families will be those who were impacted by fall floods.

How You Can Help

To volunteer with Gift of a Green Christmas Tree, make a tax-deductible donation or donate artificial trees, tree stands, Christmas lights or other decorations, email getinvolved@nocoshares.org, or visit http://nocoshares.org for more information.

Tree Preparation and Watering Tips for the Winter Months

Urban trees along Colorado's Front Range, Eastern Plains and Western Slope are now going dormant, but they require care before and during the winter to remain in top health.

This young tree is mulched well and has a 'tree gator bag' (used to water the tree in the winter).

“You're doing your trees a huge favor by preparing them for cold, arid winter conditions, and making them healthier for the next growing season,” said Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service.

The CSFS offers the following tips to prepare Colorado's urban trees for winter:

  • Wrap the trunk. In Colorado, thin-barked trees like honeylocust, ash, maple and linden are susceptible to sunscald and frost cracks because of drastic winter temperature fluctuations. To prevent bark damage, guard the trunks of younger trees up to the first branches using commercial tree wrap. Leave the wrap on until April.
  • Mulch the base. Apply 2 to 4 inches of wood chips, bark or other organic mulch near the base of the tree, but not against it, to reduce soil evaporation, improve water absorption and insulate against temperature extremes. Check your community recycling program, as some programs provide wood chips free of charge.
  • Recycle leaves. Instead of disposing of autumn leaves, consider layering them around the base of each tree as mulch, or blend them into the yard with a mulching mower to retain nutrients.
  • Prune while trees are dormant. Late winter is the best time for pruning most tree species, but it can be done whenever trees are dormant over the winter months. Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches and improve form. Always prune just outside the branch collar – the point where a branch joins a larger one – and don't remove any branches without good reason.
  • Give them a good drink. Rather than simply run a hose at the base of each tree, instead water in the area from just outside the trunk to the extent of the longest branches. Water slowly, with a sprinkler or soaker hose, at the rate of 10 gallons per inch of tree diameter.
  • Focus on younger trees. With less-extensive root systems, they require the most care.

Wood says urban trees will also require additional, regular watering over the winter. During extended dry periods (e.g., more than two weeks without snow cover), provide supplemental water per the guidelines above. The best time for winter watering is on warmer days, when snow has melted off and the temperature is above 40 degrees.

For more information about urban tree care, visit Urban & Community Forestry and Trees on our website.

Statewide Inventory to Help Foresters Manage Urban Tree Concerns

This fall, arborists completed the first phase of a project designed to create a statewide inventory of urban and community forests, and quantify the environmental benefits they provide.

The Davey Resource Group gathered urban tree inventory data on randomly selected plots to determine susceptibility to invasive pests.

Inventory Helps Identify Invasive Pests

The inventory will help urban and community foresters around the state address such concerns as emerald ash borer – an invasive insect pest first confirmed in Colorado last month and already responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in 21 states.

One of the first steps in responding to emerald ash borer and other insect pests is identifying where host trees are located; this inventory is intended to fill in the existing gaps.

“Although this is only a random sampling of trees in Colorado communities, this project will complement existing tree inventory data and fill in the inventory gaps necessary for community foresters to make tree management decisions,” said Vince Urbina, community forester for the Colorado State Forest Service.

Data Collection

Funded by a 2011 USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Grant and administered by the CSFS, the inventory project enlisted contractor Davey Resource Group to gather tree inventory data on 200 randomly selected, one-tenth acre plots. Sampling locations were located in communities along the I-76, I-70 and U.S. Highway 50 corridors in eastern Colorado.

Arborists collected data on urban trees, including tree size, canopy density, number of trees by species, overall health, environmental benefits and crown condition. The data will be used to determine susceptibility to invasive pests.

Analysis of the Phase I data should be complete by Dec. 1, and will be made available to Colorado's community foresters. The second phase of Colorado's tree inventory project began this month, with 40 plots completed in Grand Junction and others started on the northern Front Range, but was halted due to advancing fall conditions and the loss of leaves on deciduous trees. That phase will resume in Front Range communities in early summer 2014.

The inventory project is the result of community forestry threats identified during development of the 2009 Colorado Forest Action Plan. The plan was produced by the CSFS to focus limited resources on forest management where it will achieve the greatest benefit.

More information about the CSFS Urban and Community Forestry Program.

CSFS Retiree Bob Sturtevant Receives National SAF Award

The Society of American Foresters has announced that Robert Sturtevant, a retired forester with the Colorado State Forest Service, received the John A. Beale Memorial Award - one of nine national awards that the Society gave this year.

Bob Sturtevant. Photo: Bill Cotton

Outstanding Efforts

The John A. Beale Memorial Award recognizes outstanding efforts over a sustained period of time by a Society of American Foresters (SAF) member in the promotion of forestry through voluntary service to the Society. Presented annually, the engraved award includes a cash honorarium of $500.

Sturtevant embodies the spirit of John Allen Beale. He has provided invaluable leadership for SAF, the Boys Scouts of America, numerous community programs, and, most recently, the US Peace Corps. Sturtevant was named SAF Fellow in 1999, and awarded the Colorado-Wyoming SAF's Outstanding Mentor in 2010 and Citizenship Award in 2012. The Scouts recognized Sturtevant as its Scoutmaster of the Year in 1991 and with several awards for his contributions to natural resources conservation and environmental protection.

Peace Corps Service

During his Peace Corps service in Ethiopia, Sturtevant actively solicited donations to improve the working conditions of forestry workers in Ethiopia. With donated funds he purchased much-needed equipment, which helped both the local economy and improved safety for the forestry workers in the region. After returning to the United States, he resumed his active support of the Colorado State University SAF Alpha Student Chapter as its adviser.

Sturtevant and the eight other award recipients were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the forestry profession during a ceremony at the 2013 SAF National Convention, held in Charleston, South Carolina from Oct. 23-27.

Society of American Foresters

The Society of American Foresters is the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. Founded in 1900 by Gifford Pinchot, it is the largest professional society for foresters in the world.

The mission of the Society of American Foresters is to advance the science, education, technology and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and, to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

Colorado Forest Products™ Announcements Promote Use of Colorado Wood

This fall, the first series of public service announcements (PSAs) for the Colorado Forest Products™ Program aired on Colorado TV networks.

The Colorado Forest Products™ Program is a business membership and wood products consumer education program that enhances the production, marketing and sales of wood products harvested from forest management activities on Colorado's public and private forestlands.

View the public service announcements on the CFP web page.

Bonfire Burns in Light of Homecoming Celebration

Colorado State University fuels Homecoming bonfire with trees killed by bark beetles and wildfire.

CSU Homecoming bonfire 2011.

Green Twist from Forestry Students, Collaborators

For this year's Homecoming bonfire, the Colorado State Forest Service once again provided a combination of pine and fir "slash" from the Borden Memorial Forest northwest of Fort Collins.

The CSFS for years has been thinning the private forest to remove beetle-kill trees, mitigate fire risk and improve forest health, and over the past year has also worked to remove trees killed by the High Park Fire. This is the fourth year in a row that the CSFS has provided wood from this site for the bonfire.

With the help of Colorado State University forestry students and Facilities Management, CSFS foresters transported about 35 cubic yards of the dried slash – enough to fill three dump trucks – to the bonfire site (south of the CSU Lagoon) on Friday, Oct. 11.

Better Environmental Alternative

Before 2010, the CSU Homecoming bonfire was built using wooden pallets collected and dumped in the irrigation ditch near the Lory Student Center West Lawn. However, these wooden slabs were typically processed wood that included imbedded nails that would later have to be removed from the ditch after the bonfire.

Three years ago, CSU's Facilities Management decided to take it in a new direction. In order to help the environment as well as allow Forestry students to gain hands-on experience, Facilities began partnering with the CSFS and the Warner College of Natural Resources Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship to find a better alternate for the bonfire.

“The amount of slash at Borden has increased in recent years due to the mountain pine beetle and High Park Fire, which makes this endeavor all the more important,” said Mike Hughes, assistant district forester for the CSFS Fort Collins District.

More About the Pine Beetle Infestation

When mountain pine beetles infest a pine tree, they burrow through the bark and spread a fungus that often results in the death of the tree. This fungus will turn parts of the wood blue, which can make the wood difficult to sell because of a perceived lower quality.

In actuality, blue-stain wood has the same integrity as other pine and can be used to craft unique, eye-catching furniture, home construction materials and specialty wood products.

After a tree has been killed by bark beetles or wildfire, it eventually falls to the ground, where it will begin to rot and adds to the fuel available for a future forest fire.

By using the left over branch wood and needles from forest management projects in the bonfire, CSU will help the forest by reducing the forest density, which in effect helps reduce the intensity of future forest fires. Likewise, once burned, the leftover ash can be 'recycled' into a fertilizer or other soil enhancer.

Help Prevent the Spread of Emerald Ash Borer in Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. – In late September, the Colorado Department of Agriculture announced that emerald ash borer, an invasive insect responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in 21 states, was detected in Colorado for the first time.

In September 2013, the emerald ash borer, a non-native insect to Colorado, was detected for the first time in our state. Photo: D. Cappaert

The insect poses a serious threat to Colorado's urban forests, where ash species comprise an estimated 15-20 percent of all trees; the Denver Metro area alone has an estimated 1.45 million ash trees.

The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle first detected in North America in 2002.

For five years, the CDA has been conducting early emerald ash borer detection activities in Colorado through the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey program, in coordination with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Colorado State Forest Service and city foresters.

Specimens collected on Sept. 23 from an ash tree in Boulder County were confirmed by the USDA to have emerald ash borer. Colorado is now the western-most state with confirmed presence of the borer, and one of four states reporting detection for the first time this year.

The CDA, CSFS and other partners have assembled an incident command team and are following a response plan, which involves taking steps to define and quarantine a regulated area, expand detection efforts and increase education and outreach.

Public Can Help Minimize Threat of Emerald Ash Borer

CSFS Community Forestry Program Manager Keith Wood said the public has an important role to play in minimizing the spread and impacts of the insect.

“Most important is that you should never transport firewood or other untreated products from ash trees, as this is the most likely method of accidental spread,” Wood said. “Transporting firewood of various tree species is the primary cause of many costly insect introductions.”

Wood says property owners also should be on the lookout for signs of ash tree infestation, which include thinning of upper branches and twigs, loss of leaves, serpentine tunnels under the bark, vertical bark splitting or increased woodpecker activity. Any suspect trees should be reported to the CDA.

Homeowners also have the option to apply chemical treatments annually to help protect high-value trees, but the team discourages doing so unless they are within 15 miles of a positive detection. Currently, the only positive in-state identification was found in the City of Boulder.

“We don't want people unnecessarily using insecticide treatments that aren't warranted at this time,” Wood said. “They can be very expensive, and if applied incorrectly can be a detriment to the environment.”

He says foresters are hopeful that EAB will be less successful here than it has been in the Midwest, because Colorado lacks large, unbroken stands of native ash and only has sporadic planted trees in urban settings.

Landowners with any suspect ash trees should contact the CDA at (888) 248-5535 or email CAPS.program@state.co.us.

For more information about insects and diseases that threaten Colorado trees, contact a local CSFS district office or visit the Insect and Disease Publications section of our website.

Governor Announces Wildfire Insurance & Forest Health Task Force Recommendations

Governor John Hickenlooper created the Task Force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health through Executive Order B 2013-002.

Excerpt from Task Force Report

The Task Force was asked to identify and reach agreement on ways to encourage activities, practices and policies that would reduce the risk of loss in wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas and provide greater customer choice and knowledge of insurance options.
Read the report (7.4 MB PDF)

Increasingly destructive wildfires over the past ten years have caused devastating losses to Colorado and its residents. The two most destructive wildfires in state history have occurred in the last two summers. Combined, the Waldo Canyon Fire and the Black Forest Fire resulted in insurance claims in excess of $750 million, and claimed the lives of 4 people.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior spent a combined $206 million on fire suppression in 1991, an amount which surged to $1.7 billion in 2011. The increasing development of homes in the WUI ensures that the pattern of damaging wildfire will continue.

A Colorado State University study projects that the state's growth of development in the WUI will increase from 715,500 acres in 2000 to 2,161,400 acres by 2030, a 300 percent increase.

Factors Underlying Colorado's Challenge

Many factors underlie the challenge Colorado faces in making people and property located in the WUI safer in the event of a wildfire. Decades of aggressive suppression efforts have transformed the forests, leaving them susceptible to high intensity, destructive fire events. While it is well-established that reducing fuels and wildland vegetation near homes in the WUI is critical to minimizing risks, these efforts are costly and available resources are often diverted to suppression efforts.

Another complexity is that individual homeowner actions can only protect individual homes; neighborhood and community safety requires collective action. Research also shows that adapting structures through measures such as building codes, firewise building materials and zoning can appreciably reduce risks.

However, any proposed solution must also consider existing homes, which may not be captured by new regulatory measures. Factors like these have historically operated as barriers to progress. The Task Force accepted that to break through these barriers, the leaders and citizens of Colorado must make difficult choices requiring complex political trade-offs and behavioral changes.

Guiding Principles from the Executive Order

Working from the Guiding Principles contained the Executive Order, the Task Force identified a series of recommendations designed to create a coordinated system that will require homeowners to share in the burden of the risk and to promote changed behaviors through a combination of legal requirements, increased awareness and incentives. This system involves the development of uniform standards at the statewide level and defers to local governments for implementation of mitigation and prevention efforts.

Guiding Principles
  • Identify and support state and local activities and partnerships that would promote forest health and reduce the loss from wildland fires and protect communities, first responders and investment from wildfire.
  • Protect citizens who live in the WUI - Protect Colorado's landscape, which is a critical element of the state's economic health
  • Increase awareness of the fire risks in the WUI
  • Identify insurance options that incentivize actions, practices and policies that can lead to reduced losses and better understanding of coverage by policy holders
  • Identify legislation and regulatory options that promote wise planning and stewardship and reduce loss of life and property
  • Promote state and local coordination that will foster forest health and reduce wildland fire threats.
  • Explore public-private partnership opportunities

More from the report (7.4 MB PDF)

Flood-Damaged Trees Cause Additional Safety Concerns

As many communities along the Front Range and in northeast Colorado deal with the aftermath of recent flooding, one concern that should not be overlooked is the risk of trees falling due to the erosion caused by rushing water.

Avoid approaching trees adjacent to creeks, ditches or areas where flood waters are receding. Photo: City of Boulder

Community Forestry Program Manager Keith Wood of the Colorado State Forest Service said heavy flooding can soften soil and wash it away from roots of trees, weakening tree stability and eventually killing any roots that become exposed to the air.

Conversely, other trees may slowly weaken or die if their roots have been in standing water for long periods of time or are smothered by a thick layer of newly deposited soil.

“In flood-impacted areas, there will be trees at risk of falling over due to the loss of root structure, which presents a safety risk to affected communities,” said Wood. “Besides the immediate threat, weather events such as early winter snows and down-sloping winds create an extended risk of weakened trees falling.”

The CSFS offers several tips to evaluate tree health concerns and avoid harm:

  • Look for signs that a tree has been compromised and may require an inspection, which include a new lean to the tree, mounding of soil near the trunk, cracks in the soil as it dries out or obvious soil grade changes near the tree.
  • Use only an insured, International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist to inspect trees for flood damage. Professionals often are listed in the phone book under "tree services," and a listing of ISA-certified arborists can be found at www.isa-arbor.com.
  • Avoid approaching trees adjacent to creeks, ditches or areas where flood waters are receding.
  • Keep an eye on any trees of possible concern for the next few months, especially in riparian areas, and be aware of the lingering risk of falling trees, especially in high winds.
  • Look out for broken or cracked branches caused by water pressure, water weight or previous recovery and rescue efforts.

To deal with trees of concern, arborists may recommend trenching to remove standing water, removing excess soil on top of root systems and replacing soil lost over root systems.

For more information about tree care and protection, visit About Colorado's Trees on our website.

Transporting Firewood May Spread Tree-Killing Insects

Stocking up on firewood is on the minds of many Coloradans, with some seeking full cords for winter fuel while others are in need of only a few armloads for fall hunting trips.

The emerald ash borer is a non-native insect that was detected for the first time in Colorado in September 2013. Photo: D. Cappaert

But because of the immense impact bark beetles and other insects can have on Colorado forests, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to be sure people are aware of the risks associated with moving firewood.

“There are many potential risks associated with moving firewood, from spreading native insects like spruce beetle to introducing non-native urban pests from outside our borders,” said Sky Stephens, CSFS forest entomologist.

The transportation of firewood is a common cause for the accidental introduction of harmful tree insects and diseases to new areas. Insects, fungi and diseases can hitch a ride on cut wood – from both living and dead trees – and are often hidden away under the bark. Stephens says insects of primary concern include the emerald ash borer and gypsy moth – pests that are active threats to Colorado's deciduous trees. Thousand cankers disease, which has already killed most of the black walnut trees in some urban Front Range communities, is another major concern related to moving firewood.

The CSFS offers several tips to help protect Colorado trees and forests:

  • Burn firewood at the location where you buy or cut it. Leave behind any wood you don't burn.
  • Don't ever transport firewood or other raw wood across state lines (it may even be illegal).
  • Ask firewood dealers questions about the origin of the wood, and always try to buy local. The best option is anything labeled with the Colorado Forest Products logo.
  • Learn to identify the symptoms of common pests in the type of wood you plan to burn.

For more information about insects and diseases that threaten Colorado trees, contact a local CSFS district office or visit the Insect and Disease Publications section of our website.

CSFS and Boulder County Proudly Present the 2013 Forestry Fair

Due to the emergency situation associated with flooding in Boulder County and along the Front Range we had to cancel the Saturday, Sept. 14 Forestry Fair event in Nederland. We hope to reschedule the event for next spring.

Fund Provides 10,000 Seedlings for 2013 Post-Fire Restoration Plantings

This year, more than 10,000 of the seedling trees planted for post-wildfire restoration in Colorado were provided at no cost to landowners through private donations to the Restoring Colorado's Forests Fund. Every $2 donation to the fund purchases one seedling.

Planting efforts focus primarily in areas that directly impact important watersheds and provide the greatest public benefit.

Administered by the Colorado State Forest Service, the fund uses tax-deductible donations to pay for seedlings to be planted on state and private land in areas severely impacted by wildfires and other natural disasters.

Since 2003, program funds have been used to plant more than 120,000 trees. Forty-one properties around the state received trees from the program this year.

“Everyone benefits if we replant trees to help stabilize soils, protect water quality and restore habitat in severely burned watersheds,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service.

The CSFS is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.

Planting efforts focus primarily in areas that directly impact important watersheds and provide the greatest public benefit. Of significant concern is the forestland burned by the Black Forest, Waldo Canyon and High Park fires. The loss of trees and other vegetation has led to significant runoff and erosion in these areas – resulting in damaged hillsides, polluted waterways, highway closures and road damage.

Seedling trees used in the program are grown at the CSFS Nursery on the CSU Foothills Campus in Fort Collins, ensuring that only high-quality trees adapted to local conditions are used for restoration efforts.

“We are pleased to say that of the 180 trees we planted, only eight trees have not made it. We will forever be grateful for the seedlings we received because of the generosity of people giving to the Restoring Colorado's Forests Fund,” said Larimer County landowner James Williams, who lost 35 acres of timber to the High Park Fire in June 2012.

State lands and private landowners may be eligible to receive seedlings purchased through donations to the fund. CSFS foresters apply their technical expertise and research from CSU to make decisions about planting operations in coming seasons, based on available funding and reforestation needs within burned areas.

To donate to the fund, go to https://advancing.colostate.edu/RestoringColoradosForests.

Easement Allows Watershed Protection for 4,700 Acres West of Boulder

A $5 million grant awarded through the 2013 Forest Legacy Program will protect more than 4,700 acres of the South Boulder Creek Watershed.

South Boulder Creek Watershed benefits Denver Water, which relies on the creek to help deliver safe drinking water to 1.3 million people.

The program authorizes the Colorado State Forest Service and USDA Forest Service to purchase permanent conservation easements on private forestlands.

The easement will permanently protect the largest private property in the South Boulder Creek Watershed – an area that directly benefits Denver Water, which relies on the creek to help deliver safe drinking water to 1.3 million people.

A conservation easement funded by the Forest Legacy Program, which prevents private forestlands from being converted to non-forest uses, will protect the 4,728-acre forested property, which is surrounded by some of Colorado's most popular national forest destinations – including James Peak Wilderness and Eldora Ski Area.

“We look forward to protecting these important forested lands in Boulder County, which benefit those in the Denver area through a clean and reliable water supply and also continue to provide many other benefits, including recreation,” said Joe Duda, CSFS deputy state forester.

The CSFS evaluates all Forest Legacy Program proposals in Colorado and recommends those that have sufficient merit to forward to the U.S. Forest Service. Of the 16 projects nationally that the USFS awarded a total of $44.2 million in program grants this year, this project was ranked number-one in priority.

The purpose of the Forest Legacy Program is to protect environmentally important private forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. It provides an opportunity for private landowners to retain ownership and management of their land, while receiving compensation for unrealized development rights.

“Since 1990, the Forest Legacy Program has prevented the loss of more than 2.3 million acres of private forest lands for future generations of Americans,” said USFS Chief Tom Tidwell in a news release. “In an era of continued sprawl, this program protects land and keeps working forests working.”

More information about the FLP in Colorado.

Bayfield Landowners Receive Tree Farmer of the Year Award

On Aug. 3, the Colorado State Forest Service recognized a La Plata County couple with the 2013 Colorado Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award.

Patti and Bill Szilva receive the Tree Farmer of the Year Award from Ray Herrmann (center).

Bill and Patti Szilva received the award for exceptional multiple-objective management of their forested property, located northeast of Bayfield.

A tree farm is any tract of privately owned land voluntarily dedicated to growing renewable resources, while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of sustainable forestry. The state's Tree Farm Committee initiated an award system in 1980 to annually recognize forest landowners certified in the American Tree Farm System® who have done an exceptional job of forest management.

The recognition event opened with brief presentations by the CSFS, Firewise of Southwest Colorado and the La Plata Conservation District, followed by a tour of the Szilva's property.

Ray Herrmann, Larimer County Tree Farmer and chair of the Colorado Tree Farm Committee, then presented the award to the Szilvas. State Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango), Rep. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango) and La Plata County commissioners were invited and Tree Farmers from around the state attended the ceremony.

“This recognition provides an opportunity to focus public attention on the Tree Farmer as a symbol of good forestry, and encourage other landowners to manage their lands by showing what Tree Farmers can accomplish,” said Dan Wand, assistant district forester for the CSFS Durango District.

The Szilva's managed forest also produces merchantable lumber.

Under a long-term management plan, the Szilvas manage their property using forest stewardship practices, with specific emphasis on wildfire mitigation, sustainable wood harvesting, utilization of forest products and community activism.

Wand says the Szilvas have transformed 40 acres of dense, stagnated ponderosa pine and Gambel oak woodland into an attractive and productive forest more resilient to insects, disease and wildfire.

The Szilvas' property became certified in the American Tree Farm System®, which is a program of the American Forest Foundation, in 2005.

“As a private forest landowner, there is an opportunity to improve the health and safety of our forest for us and our neighbors, but it can be an overwhelming task,” said Bill Szilva. “The Tree Farm Program provides professional support, interaction from other local Tree Farmers and a structured management plan to achieve our goals efficiently.”

All forest management activities on the property are handled by the Szilvas, from thinning trees and mowing brush to grass seeding and weed control. The property also produces merchantable lumber, with trees of sufficient diameter destined for a portable chainsaw mill and non-merchantable wood and milling scraps fed to a wood boiler system, which is used to heat the home.

For more information about the Tree Farm Program, contact the CSFS Durango District at (970) 247-5250 or go to the American Tree Farm System website.

Nederland Becomes a Firewise Community

The Town of Nederland has received recognition as Boulder County's second Firewise Community after completing the criteria to become a part of the Firewise Communities/USA® Program.

Allen Owen, CSFS Boulder District forester; Randy Lee, a trustee of the Town of Nederland and chair of the Nederland Parks Recreation and Open Space Advisory Board; and Alisha Reis, Nederland Town Administrator.

Randy Lee, a trustee of the Town of Nederland and chair of the Nederland Parks, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Board (PROSAB), spearheaded the local Firewise effort.

Lee was motivated after hearing Boulder County representatives tout the program while attending a meeting on community-based emergency preparedness in local mountain townships.

He recognized that Nederland was already meeting the requirements of the Firewise Communities/USA® Program, and decided this could be a tool to provide community leaders with additional resources for wildfire mitigation education and outreach.

“The process of creating our Firewise Community Action Plan brought representatives from Town staff, elected officials, PROSAB, the Nederland Fire Protection District, Boulder County and the Colorado State Forest Service all to the same table to discuss a plan for this year's community mitigation efforts,” said Lee. “That was huge; you can't overstate the value of this.”

Firewise is a Program of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Five steps are necessary for a community to receive the Firewise Communities/USA designation:

  1. Obtain a wildfire risk assessment from the state forestry agency or fire department
  2. Form a Firewise board
  3. Create an action plan based on the wildfire risk assessment
  4. Conduct a "Firewise Day" event
  5. Invest a minimum of $2 per capita in local Firewise actions for the year

Much of Nederland's investment in Firewise activities this year supports Nederland Saws & Slaws – a program of neighbors helping neighbors to come together for wildfire mitigation activities. Nederland's PROSAB initiated its Saws & Slaws program in 2012.

Firewise Community Action Plan

Allen Owen, Boulder District forester for the Colorado State Forest Service, has been working with Lee and representatives from Boulder County Parks and Open Space, the Nederland Fire Protection District, Saws and Slaws and the Town of Nederland to create the Firewise Community Action Plan.

The action plan involves identifying goals, such as increasing community understanding of defensible space needs, mitigating town-owned property and increasing utilization of the Nederland Sort Yard.

The plan also involves holding Firewise events, such as the Firewise Town Cleanup, that took place on June 1. That day, 168 residents cleared combustible materials from around their homes and dropped off one ton of pine needles for composting. Sponsoring monthly neighborhood Saws & Slaws events is also part of the action plan.

“The work taking place since Nederland has become a Firewise Community is already gaining momentum in surrounding communities, such as the St. Anton Highlands HOA and the Greater Rollinsville Community Association,” said Owen.

On Sept. 14, the Colorado State Forest Service and Boulder County Open Space will host the 2013 Forestry Fair at the Nederland Sort Yard. The fair will provide an opportunity for community residents to learn more about efforts they can take to be more Firewise.

Colorado Teachers Learn About Wildfire at a Weeklong Workshop

The 12th Annual Fire Ecology Institute for Educators, a weeklong forestry and wildfire workshop, brought together 22 educators from around the state to the Nature Place in Florissant, Colo.

Four Mile Volunteer Fire Department Chief Lance Crummett instructs teachers to use firefighting tools and cut a fire line.

Project Learning Tree, the flagship program of the Colorado State Forest Service for reaching younger audiences, offers the annual summer workshop.

In late June, 4th to 12th grade educators received background information and resources to help educate their students about wildfire and its effects on Colorado's people and landscapes.

Shawna Crocker, Colorado PLT Coordinator and organizer of the Fire Ecology Institute, took the teachers to a variety of locations impacted by wildfire. Crocker, who leads the flagship program of the Colorado State Forest Service that reaches younger audiences via workshops for PreK-12 educators, introduced the 22 educators to professionals from various local, state and federal agencies.

Workshop Classroom & Field Activities

Agency personnel demonstrated experiments and activities involving wildfire, both in the classroom and out in the field.

Among these professionals was Amy Sylvester from the Colorado Springs Fire Department, who spoke to the group about community actions taken during and since last summer's Waldo Canyon Fire.

Peter Brown, a Colorado State University forest ecologist and dendrochronologist, instructed participants on historical and current impacts on forests by using increment borers to core trees in the forests surrounding the Nature Place, where the teachers were staying for the week.

Steve Jennings, coordinator for the Colorado Geographic Alliance (COGA) and associate professor for the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, showed the teachers how to use ArcGIS as a tool to map wildfire activity.

2013 Fire Ecology Institute participants on an overlook of the Waldo Canyon Fire area.

Several Colorado State Forest Service employees, including Staff Forester Rich Homann and Outreach Forester Lisa Mason, presented information on the Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (CO-WRAP), FireWise Communities and creating Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs).

Teachers also spent a day touring sites in the Waldo Canyon Fire area with Theresa Springer, Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect the water quality and ecologic health of the South Platte watershed. The watershed provides municipal water to three-quarters of Colorado's residents and offers more than 1.5 million acres of recreational land.

At another area affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire, University of Colorado Professor Eric Billmeyer talked about the effects of fire on soils. The teachers also explored impacts of the Springer Fire with Mike Hessler, USDA Forest Service district fire management officer for Park County. Additionally, Tonya Sharp, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, took the group to the Hayman Fire burn area to discuss the impacts of wildfires on wildlife.

At the end of a jam-packed week, the teachers brainstormed ideas on how they can use the information in their classrooms.

Institute participants were required to create standard-based lesson plans and report back on how they intend to use the activities, tools and experiments with their students.

Some of these ideas included:

  • a mock trial where the students role-play a case involving a wildfire started by four high school students;
  • incorporating wildfire into a data-based question as a tool for middle school students to make a claim using evidence to answer the question “Is fire good or bad?”;
  • exploring how wildfire has driven evolution and adaptation; examining tree rings to learn about wildfire history in Colorado;
  • studying the impacts of humans on nature; and
  • exploring wildland firefighting as a career option.

Beetle-Kill Trees Pose Increasing Risk to Recreationists, Landowners

GRANBY, Colo. – Those who live in or visit the mountains in northern Colorado this summer should be aware that huge swaths of dead lodgepole pines in beetle-kill areas are now falling en masse, based on observations from foresters in Grand County.

Recreationists should be aware of falling dead trees in beetle-kill areas.

Ron Cousineau, district forester for the Colorado State Forest Service Granby District, says that foresters have been anticipating an event of this magnitude for years because of the current mountain pine beetle outbreak.

Be Aware of Standing Dead Snags & “Widowmakers”

In addition to standing dead snags, Cousineau says recreationists also need to be aware of “widowmakers” – trees that have already partially fallen and remain hung up in another standing tree.

“Widowmakers can be especially dangerous, as they can fall to the ground at any moment,” he said. “Gravity constantly pulls on them, making them more dangerous with time.”

Cousineau says that many standing trees in beetle-kill areas of Grand, Summit and Jackson counties have been dead up to a decade or longer. These dead trees are experiencing normal decay processes and are now breaking off at ground level, often without warning, such as the loud popping noise typically associated with a falling tree. He adds that there have already been several reports of tents, homes, vehicles and other property being struck by falling snags.

The CSFS Offers the Following Tips to Avoid Harm from Falling Trees:

  • Refrain from visiting beetle-kill areas where high-wind conditions exist or strong winds are forecast.
  • Remove standing dead trees in the vicinity of houses and other structures.
  • If the wind picks up when you're outside, move to a clearing away from dead or exposed trees.
  • Locate campsites, parked vehicles and tents well away from dead trees.
  • If possible, steer clear of remote roads that pass through beetle-kill forests, as trees falling across the road after your passage could block your exit.
  • Pack a saw or chainsaw when headed into the backcountry to clear fallen trees from roadways.

Current Wildfires Demonstrate How Rapidly Fire Danger can Increase

With several wildfires burning thousands of acres and many homes, Coloradans are reminded of just how quickly fire conditions can change.

In June 2012, the High Park Fire burned more than 87,000 acres west of Fort Collins.

As the state enters a period of hot, dry weather, foresters warn that it takes a very short time for downed wood to dry out and turn green grasses yellow – making the landscape susceptible to large wildfires.

Areas of southern and western Colorado received little spring precipitation and many residents already are aware of heightened fire danger, but much of northern Colorado welcomed a very wet spring, with enough moisture along the northern Front Range to nearly eliminate drought conditions. That same moisture may lull some landowners, surrounded by green vegetation, into thinking wildfire is not currently a concern for them – as it was last year at this time, when the High Park Fire was well on its way to burning more than 87,000 acres west of Fort Collins.

“Colorado is heading into a period where we will have above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation, so the fire danger will increase,” said Boyd Lebeda, district forester for the CSFS Fort Collins District and a National Wildfire Coordinating Group-qualified fire behavior analyst.

Foresters use fuel classes to determine how long it takes different types of dead vegetation to dry out or cure. Without significant precipitation, fine fuels, such as yellow grasses and small sticks, can dry out in just one hour, while thousand-hour fuels, like downed logs up to 8 inches in diameter, can go from waterlogged to completely cured in just 40 days. When the moisture content of the fuels on the ground is comparable to the dry air around them, they can quickly spread large fires.

To help prevent ignitions this summer, Lebeda says Coloradans should avoid burning slash, flicking cigarette butts, driving ATVs through dead grass, leaving fire pits unattended and engaging in other activities that could start a fire.

Lebeda also reminds landowners that early summer is a great time to address basic wildfire mitigation, such as mowing tall grasses around the home, relocating wood piles more than 30 feet from structures and clearing decks and gutters of pine needles – all steps that are necessary to maintain an effective wildfire-defensible space.

“Attention to details makes a real difference,” Lebeda said.

The CSFS is the state lead for the Fire Adapted Communities and Firewise Communities/USA® programs, and provides resources to help Coloradans proactively protect their homes and properties from wildfire.

Beetle-Kill Wood Product Reduces Post-Wildfire Erosion

Steamboat Springs business utilizes state, federal funds to launch business.

WoodStraw® is an erosion-control material composed of interlocking wood strands that offer highly effective wind and water erosion-control capabilities.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.– Private landowners and public land managers soon will be able to use a novel type of straw made from beetle-kill Colorado pines to help reduce erosion and flooding after wildfires.

Rogue Resources Inc., a Steamboat Springs-based forest products business, is now manufacturing WoodStraw® Erosion Control Mulch to reduce erosion and runoff in burn areas, thanks to financial support from the Colorado State Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Conservation Fund's ShadeFund.

The business is turning beetle-kill lodgepole pines into an environmentally friendly, cost-effective erosion mitigation product. The venture also provides jobs in Routt County, and helps reduce wildfire risk through the removal of standing dead fuel.

“Thanks to the Colorado State Forest Service and their lending partners, our company was able to obtain the necessary funding to establish Colorado’s first manufacturing facility to produce our product,” said Trent Jones, controller for Rogue Resources. “The loan we received also helped our company to successfully compete and recently be awarded a working capital grant from USDA Rural Development.”

Recently burned areas with erosion concerns, such as the High Park and Waldo Canyon sites, as well as areas that will be impacted by future wildfires, soon could benefit from the application of this product.

Wood Product Ideal for Land Rehab, Addressing Beetle Kill

WoodStraw® is an erosion-control material composed of interlocking wood strands that offer highly effective wind and water erosion-control capabilities – making it useful for burned area emergency response, as well as other disturbed-soil projects, such as rehabilitation after road maintenance, mining and construction.

The straw, which is essentially small, narrow wood strands of relatively uniform size, is created by shearing lumber through specialized machinery. The feedstock for the process – in this case, beetle-kill lodgepole pines – is fed into a machine that produces the patented WoodStraw®, which can then be purchased in 50- or 600-lb. bales.

Like other forms of ground cover applied to rehabilitate burned areas, WoodStraw® helps minimize erosion and runoff by preventing the formation of rills and small channels in the soil, and by intercepting raindrops before they can strike the ground. The straw is free of weeds, pesticides and chemicals; provides an economical use for beetle-kill wood and incentives to remove dead fuel from the land; can be applied by hand, mechanized blower or from aircraft; is resistant to high winds; and may remain effective for up to four years.

Rogue Resources recently began manufacturing the patented product after reaching a licensing agreement with Forest Concepts LLC – a small business in Washington State that owns the production rights. Rogue now has the exclusive right to manufacture, distribute and sell the straw within a five-state area that includes Colorado.

“It makes perfect sense to convert beetle-kill trees into an engineered mulch that will promote regeneration of new living trees,” said Jones, in a Forest Concepts news release. “WoodStraw® historically produced from Douglas-fir has already been used on projects in Colorado, such as the Fourmile Canyon Fire near Boulder.”

Production Possible Because of CSFS Loan

In response to the challenge forest products businesses face when seeking capital, four years ago the Colorado Legislature passed a provision to establish a Forest Business Loan Fund. As part of State House Bill 1199, the fund provides lending capital to small and emerging forest products businesses. Rogue Resources received such a loan from the CSFS in 2012 to allow initial production of WoodStraw®.

Tim Reader, CSFS wood utilization and marketing forester, says that this is the third Colorado forest products business to receive a loan under a CSFS partnership with the Upper Arkansas Area Development Corporation.

“Access to financing for purchasing equipment is often a need for today's forest products businesses, and this loan program addresses that problem,” said Reader. He emphasizes that the fund does not compete with commercial lending institutions, but serves to target businesses that may not qualify for loans with traditional commercial lenders.

Reader says that another major benefit of the Forest Business Loan Fund has been the ability to leverage additional lending capital for Colorado forest products businesses. In the case of Rogue Resources, it was The Conservation Fund's ShadeFund, which provides small loans to businesses nationwide that are good stewards of natural resources.

“ShadeFund is proud to partner with the CSFS to fund Rogue's expansion,” said Rick Larson, ShadeFund Director. “WoodStraw® makes innovative use of beetle-kill trees for erosion control and creates new employment in Colorado's forest products industry. This fits nicely with The Conservation Fund's long history of working with the CSFS to conserve Colorado ranchland and forestland.”

In 2012, the CSFS provided a forest business loan, administered by the Upper Arkansas Area Development Corporation and partially funded by lending capital from the ShadeFund, to allow Rogue Resources to create the anti-erosion wood product. Rogue utilized the loan to purchase and install manufacturing equipment, expand its product line and add employees to its Steamboat Springs facility.

“During our review of the Rogue Resources loan application, the Upper Arkansas Area Development Corporation Board of Directors realized the need for creative leadership in commercial lending for Colorado's emerging forest product businesses, and judiciously balancing the lending risk of this business and industry,” said Jeff Ollinger, president and administrator for the UAADC, which also has worked with the CSFS on loans provided to two other Colorado businesses.

“The loans we've made are already being repaid, and these repayments become available to lend to additional forest product businesses,” Reader says.

USDA Grant Assures Continued Production

Rogue Resources recently received another boost to its production potential when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the business received one of 110 nationwide grants provided to agricultural producers and rural businesses. USDA Value-Added Producer grants help create jobs and develop new products, by allowing agricultural producers to increase income by expanding marketing opportunities, creating new products or developing novel uses for existing products. On May 1, the USDA awarded Rogue Resources a $300,000 grant under the program, which they applied for in 2012.

“This support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where the recipients are located,” Vilsack said in a USDA news release. “These awards also will advance USDA's goals to develop a bio-based economy.”

Three of the USDA awards were made in Colorado, but Rogue Resources was the only forest products enterprise to receive an award.

For more information about WoodStraw®, contact Trent Jones at (970) 879-0962 or trent@mpinem.com.

Q&A: Partnership Works Across Boundaries to Restore South Platte River’s Urban Waters

The Colorado State Forest Service sat down to have a conversation with Devon Buckels, American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), who was recently hired as the South Platte River Urban Waters Partnership coordinator.

Devon Buckels, South Platte River Urban Waters Partnership coordinator, stands alongside the river at Confluence Park, downtown Denver.

Prior to her new position, Buckels' work in the public, private and non-profit sectors has focused on creating healthy and sustainable communities.

Her work for URS Corporation and more recently for the City and County of Denver has included community and land-use planning, river corridor planning, infrastructure financing, civic engagement and the creation of strategic partnerships for project funding.

She has a master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a Certification in Sustainability Leadership and Implementation from the Daniels College of Business at Denver University.

Q&As between the CSFS and Devon Buckels

CSFS: First, tell us a little about the South Platte River Urban Waters Partnership (SPRUWP).
Buckels: We are a collaboration of organizations, working across governmental and disciplinary boundaries, to protect and restore lands and waters in the South Platte River watershed. We emphasize stewardship and community connection, linking urban areas with forested watersheds, and people with nature. This partnership involves more than 40 groups, ranging from federal and state government to municipalities, NGOs and private businesses, all coming together for the benefit of the silent partner, the South Platte River.

CSFS: So there are a lot of different stakeholders involved with this group?
Buckels: This is a very diverse group. To put it into perspective, I report to someone at the Colorado State Forest Service, my salary is paid by U.S. Forest Service funds and I have office space in the Environmental Protection Agency building downtown. At first I thought, ‘How can I pull all these various groups together?’ But it actually provides a lot of opportunity. I think it's very exciting.

CSFS: How did the partnership get started?
Buckels: It ties back to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. The South Platte River through Denver is one of seven areas in the country selected to participate in a national program to revitalize our urban waterways, raise awareness of their value and engage local communities in their protection. The main goals are water conservation, reconnecting people to their waterways, improving water quality and using urban water systems as a way to promote economic revitalization, particularly in areas along the river that are economically distressed.

CSFS: Why is this partnership important?
Buckels: This partnership is all about resource efficiency – leveraging human capital and financial resources to accomplish the most we can, in terms of river restoration, community education and improving watershed health. My position is right at the nexus of all these important issues.

CSFS: Briefly explain your new role with SPRUWP.
Buckels: To provide direction, focus, structure and community presence to the partnership. In some ways I support the partners, and in other ways I help lead the group. I'm a matchmaker who tries to help link partners with funding opportunities. I also further improve efficiencies by recognizing where we can better work together to achieve greater outcomes with scarce resources.

Urban Waters Partnership logo

CSFS: Why did the partners create this position?
Buckels: Most of the other Urban Waters pilot sites have ambassadors like me. This group wanted to make sure they had someone to shepherd them and make it work. I'm coming in at chapter two – they've already had about two years without me and have initiated some great projects.

CSFS: Such as?
Buckels: Last spring, the Colorado State Forest Service awarded $100,000 to four projects to restore and protect Denver-area waterways. Mapping projects also are underway to develop tools for the partnership. Other Urban Waters funding from the EPA has gone toward brownfields planning, green infrastructure design work and an Urban Waters Green Jobs pilot project.

CSFS: Why did you apply for this job? What are your own goals?
Buckels: Because it builds on work I've done on the river corridor in the past, and it allows me to use skills from almost every job I've had to this point. Most importantly, it's such a unique opportunity to work on the river and its communities in a holistic fashion.

CSFS: What is most valuable about the SPRUWP?
Buckels: It's essential that we take care of our forests and waterways for the health of the ecosystems and their adjoining communities. Water is such a scarce resource in our region, which makes our forested watersheds and waterways even more valuable. It's critical that we take care of them, and collaborating with a group like this allows us to integrate solutions to complex problems.

CSFS: Do you think most urbanites care about their waterways?
Buckels: I don't think the average person gives much thought to their waterways on a daily basis, but when they do think about them, I think they really do care. Where there are combinations natural and recreational environments, they're phenomenally successful. Just look at the Cherry Creek corridor and the Confluence Park area. I think people appreciate viewsheds and having access to nature in town.

CSFS: What do you think concerns the average person most?
Buckels: Probably the water coming out of their faucets. When people understand that their drinking water is tied directly to the health of the South Platte River, I think it means more to them. Part of the purpose of this group is to make sure people are aware their urban waterways exist, and help them understand their value.

CSFS: Do you think the recent years of drought in Colorado have had an impact on how Denverites view water?
Buckels: I do. I think drought has an impact, and I think it will continue to have an impact. Long-term drought impacts everybody, affecting our food sources, our ability to generate energy, our urban and non-urban ecosystems, our household water use and our ability to sustain trees and other landscaping. Communities are already struggling with how to provide adequate water for residents.

CSFS: Is anything unique about SPRUWP, compared to similar programs in other urban areas?
Buckels: The other six pilot sites in the federal Urban Waters Partnership are all different in their geographic focus and project priorities. Our South Platte organization is unique in that we tie forested headwaters with urban waters.

CSFS: How do forestry principles tie into restoring and protecting urban waters?
Buckels: Community forestry in urban areas plays a key role in air and water quality, wildlife habitat and river corridor health. Community forestry projects provide opportunities for kids to understand these benefits by planting trees to restore degraded waterways. Also, at the headwaters of a river like the South Platte, forestry practices are integral in keeping waters downstream healthy. Forest health is directly related to the quality of the water consumed by residents in the Denver metro area.

CSFS: Who benefits the most from SPRUWP?
Buckels: It ought to be everybody in the region. Communities and ecosystems in the headwaters benefit when people in the metro area are aware of the value of the headwaters. Conversely, people in the metro area benefit by having high-quality water sources, improvements in their communities related to access and recreation, and economic benefits.

CSFS: What sort of economic benefits?
Buckels: The Greenway Foundation estimates that $100 million invested in green improvements to the South Platte River and its tributaries has facilitated more than $10 billion in residential and commercial development throughout the Denver metro area. That's a pretty good return on investment. And that doesn't even include the additional dollar value of air and water quality and public health benefits from green infrastructure.

CSFS: What do you hope to accomplish in the short-term?
Buckels: Within the next couple of years, I hope the group has a clearly defined mission and a more clarified structure so everyone knows how they will work together, and that we have made progress toward our top goals. We will identify one or two projects to get started on and go from there.

CSFS: So you want to help get them headed in the right direction?
Buckels: I want to get them off the ground. We really hope to be able to take steps toward providing people a better understanding of their water sources and the benefits of urban waterways. I also want to find a way to capitalize on the headwaters-urban waters connection, and create a platform for communication.

CSFS: What do you want to say to citizens, stakeholders and decision-makers about the partnership?
Buckels: Join us! The challenges surrounding water, resource protection and connecting people and nature are complex and really can't be effectively handled by local or federal action alone. They require and deserve the extra attention they're getting through this multi-sector alliance. The diversity of this Partnership is its strength, and there's a role for each individual, community, business and agency, so please join in!

For more information about urban and community forestry in Colorado, go to the CSFS Communities web page.

For more information about the Urban Waters Federal Partnership program, go to http://www.urbanwaters.gov.

Motorcycle Club Plants 1,900 Seedling Trees in High Park Burn Area

On May 11, the Sleigh Riders, a Greeley-based motorcycle club best known for delivery of donated toys at Christmas, planted 1,900 seedling trees in the High Park Fire burn area.

Sleigh Riders motorcycle club members and other volunteers in the Stove Prairie vicinity of the 2012 High Park Fire.

The trees were planted in the Stove Prairie vicinity as part of a coordinated volunteer effort led by the Colorado State Forest Service.

The seedling trees, a mixture of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir grown at the CSFS Nursery in Fort Collins, were planted on private properties impacted by the fire. The planting will help accelerate regeneration and ultimately protect water supplies, restore wildlife habitat and reduce flooding and erosion.

“We ride these roads a lot for relief and soul searching,” said Charley Barnes, founder and president of the nonprofit Sleigh Riders. “We wanted to give back, and also be able to ride this road in 20 years and see what we planted.”

The Sleigh Riders volunteered to plant seedling trees in the High Park Fire burn area (member, Mike Neuerburg, shown in photo).

The Sleigh Riders' primary function is an annual Christmastime Motorcycle Toy Run that began in 2006. Each December, the police-escorted parade winds through Greeley as more than 350 motorcycles deliver donated toys to families in need.

Mike Hughes, assistant district forester for the CSFS Fort Collins District, led the weekend planting efforts; additional volunteers from the Environmental Ministry Team at Plymouth Congregational Church in Fort Collins also contributed to the effort. Hughes said the affected landowners were extremely appreciative of everyone's efforts.

“The Sleigh Riders and other volunteers worked hard and really planted a lot of seedlings,” Hughes said. “There's nice moisture in the ground now, so these trees have a great chance at survival.”

Other landowners in the High Park burn area recently received more than 4,000 seedlings from the CSFS-administered Restoring Colorado's Forests Fund, which provides trees through donations from Colorado businesses and private citizens.

To help provide seedlings for planting on lands impacted by the High Park Fire and other natural disasters, citizens can donate to the Restoring Colorado's Forests Fund.

Safety Tips for Replanting in Burn Areas

Many private landowners, volunteer organizations and other groups are now planting seedling trees to reforest areas burned by Colorado wildfires.

Falling trees represent the primary risk to individuals working in burn areas.

Before heading out to the field to plant, the Colorado State Forest Service recommends that everyone involved familiarize themselves with the following safety considerations.

Falling Trees

Falling trees represent the primary risk to individuals working in burn areas. Trees that have been even partially burned may have weakened trunks and/or roots, and can fall at any time, putting anyone on site at risk.

Even unburned trees may fall unexpectedly due to increased exposure to wind after a fire.

The CSFS recommends removing all hazard trees at a planting site prior to planting. This is especially important when badly burned, dead trees are in the vicinity. It is advisable to hire a qualified tree faller to cut down these hazard trees.

Partially burned or dead trees often contain rot in the stump sections, making tree felling especially hazardous. Besides reducing the risk to life safety, another benefit of removing hazard trees prior to planting is that it reduces the risk of damage to new plantings when the trees fall or are removed. Felled trees also can be used as contour logs to control erosion in a planting area.

When electing to plant in an area that still contains hazard trees, the following guidelines can help reduce safety risks:

  • Never enter burn areas on windy days! Even if you have a large group ready to plant, it is best to cancel to ensure everyone's safety if high winds are predicted.
  • Always include a "spotter" during planting operations. The sole job of the spotter is to watch the standing trees above those doing the planting. The spotter can shout to others if they see trees swaying, or if winds are increasing and could escalate the overall falling risk. If the wind increases, everyone should move to a designated safety zone.
  • Assume that every tree in a burn area is a hazard tree. However, trees with obvious defects should be especially avoided. Don't work in the vicinity (closer than 1.5 times the height of the tree) of dead and blackened trees or any trees with:
    • Less than 50 percent live foliage
    • Trunk injuries or large broken branches
    • Lightning scars below the top fork
    • Root rot or significant root damage
  • Consider flagging around obvious hazard trees in advance to make them more identifiable to anyone working in a burn area. This might be done by creating a ring of flagging tape at a safe distance around each identified hazard tree.
  • Avoid any physical contact with hazard trees.
  • Maintain personal awareness. If the wind increases, stop planting and look up at the trees around you. If the trees are swaying or you are concerned about the falling risk, leave the area immediately for a pre-designated safety zone.

Tripping/Rolling Hazards

Steep, barren slopes in burned landscapes can be difficult to navigate. Always move with caution in burn areas, and be sure to not dislodge rocks or logs that could roll down-slope into someone working below you. Conversely, do not work directly underneath anyone else on steep, unstable slopes.

If you ever dislodge a rock on a slope, immediately shout "ROCK!" to alert others to the danger. Also, beware of hidden underground hazards where stumps have burned out in the fire, which leave hollow areas underfoot that are tripping hazards.

Storms/Lightning

Badly burned hillsides may not effectively absorb rainwater. During a rainstorm, these slopes may become dangerous due to mudslides, rolling and sliding logs, rocks and other debris, and high volumes of running water. Avoid planting if significant rain is in the forecast and cease operations if heavy rains develop while working.

Approaching thunderstorms also can bring erratic, powerful winds and lightning. Be especially alert to the risk of falling trees in strong winds before a storm, and observe the 30/30 rule: if you hear the thunderclap within 30 seconds of a lightning strike, stop working outside until 30 minutes after the storm has passed. Vehicles or fully enclosed buildings provide the safest shelters.

Other Risks

Do not approach within 5 feet of electrical wire, fences, man-made structures or other physical property on the site. Risks in these areas include broken glass, nails, live electrical wires, severed barbed wire and jagged edges where structures have burned.

Personal Protective Equipment

The CSFS recommends that, at a minimum, the following equipment be worn by anyone entering a burn area:

  • Hardhat
  • Leather gloves
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Eye protection
  • Long-sleeve shirt and long pants

Personal Responsibility

Whether working by yourself or with a large group, always assume responsibility for your own safety. If anything about a planting site seems threatening, use your best judgment to avoid a potential accident. Do not wait for a leader to make safety calls for you.

For More Information

If you have questions or concerns about post-fire replanting, please contact your local CSFS District Office.

Interim State Forester Joe Duda Presented Safety Award from USDA Forest Service

Joe Duda, interim state forester with the Colorado State Forest Service, recently was presented the 2013 Forest Health Protection Aviation Safety Award from the USDA Forest Service for “outstanding contributions to aviation safety and support to forest health programs.”

Joe Duda, interim state forester with the Colorado State Forest Service.

Only one candidate from state and federal organizations involved in national USFS aerial survey programs receives the award each year.

The award is given for promoting a positive aviation safety culture, conducting forest health activities that directly benefit the resource, and for building efficiencies among federal and state partners.

On May 2, James Hubbard, deputy chief of the USFS State and Private Forestry Program, presented the award to Duda in Fort Collins.

“Joe continually places safety as the highest priority and has substantially contributed to developing a positive, effective and long-term cooperative forest health relationship,” said Hubbard.

For the past several years, Duda has participated in at least one aerial detection survey flight annually and in numerous meetings and trainings. He says that being a program lead with personal involvement in the flights provides him an opportunity to be aware of the unique challenges aerial observers face, and ensure that everyone involved is promoting a safe and effective work environment.

The USFS Forest Health Protection Program established the award to commemorate the aerial survey crew of aircraft N30266 – Rodney Whiteman, Dan Snider and Patrick Jessup – lost on a 2010 aerial detection flight in Pennsylvania.

Each year, observers with the CSFS and USFS together conduct an aerial survey to map insect and disease activity in forested areas of Colorado. The survey, which involves flying from July through September, provides a snapshot of landscape-level forest conditions that may be monitored and addressed more closely by on-the-ground assessments.

“It's easy to work with our partners in the USFS Forest Health Protection Program, who are passionate and dedicated,” Duda said. “The real heroes are the folks frequently going up in the aircraft and conducting the aerially surveys. Their safety is our top priority.”

Colorado State Forest Service Offers First Aid Tips for Snow-Damaged Trees

Many northern Front Range residents may be dealing with damaged trees from the early May snowstorm that dumped moisture on Colorado.

Tree covered with heavy snow. Photo: CSU

Community Forestry Program Manager Keith Wood of the Colorado State Forest Service said that although the first impulse may be to start sawing when a tree is damaged, homeowners should assess the situation first to avoid hurting themselves or further damaging the tree.

Wood and the CSFS offer the following tips for dealing with snow-damaged trees; the tips were adapted from International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) recommendations:

  • Check for hazards. Before approaching a tree, examine your surroundings to avoid making contact with downed utility lines or standing under hanging branches that are broken and ready to fall.
  • Contact city officials if necessary. Trees between the street and a city sidewalk may be the responsibility of city crews.
  • Assess the damage. If a tree is healthy overall and still possesses its leader (the main upward branch), most of its major limbs and 50 percent or more of its crown, the chance is good for a complete recovery.
  • Be careful knocking snow off branches. This may cause the branches to break. If you must remove snow, gently push up on branches from below to prevent adding additional stress.
  • Remove broken branches. This minimizes the risk of decay and insects or diseases entering the wound. Prune at the branch collar – the point where a branch joins a larger one – and be mindful of potential pent-up energy if the branch is twisted or bent.
  • Don't over-prune. With the loss of some branches, a tree may look unbalanced, but most trees quickly grow new foliage that hides bare areas.
  • Don't try to do it all yourself. If the job requires running a chainsaw overhead, sawing from a ladder or removing large branches or entire trees, contact an insured, certified arborist. Professionals often are listed in the phone book under "tree services."

For more information about tree care and protection, visit our section on Trees.

To find an ISA-certified arborist, visit www.isa-arbor.com.

Project Learning Tree Grant has Lasting Impact on New Colorado STEM Coordinator

The Colorado Department of Education recently hired its first-ever STEM coordinator to help students excel in math and science, and prepare them for 21st century professions.

Dr. Violeta Garcia, past recipient of a Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! Grant, was recently appointed as Colorado's new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Coordinator.

STEM educators incorporate inquiry, critical thinking, invention and collaboration in their curricula to help students succeed in technical disciplines and careers.

New STEM Coordinator Works on Curriculum Project

Dr. Violeta Garcia, the new Colorado STEM coordinator, is in the process of launching Colorado's District Sample Curriculum Project. The project provides teacher-created curriculum samples based on Colorado Academic Standards that integrate STEM concepts.

Development of the curriculum project involved more than 500 Colorado educators who participated in the creation of 670 curriculum samples for all 10 content areas of the K–12 Colorado Academic Standards.

Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! Grant Recipient

Prior to becoming Colorado's STEM coordinator, Garcia was a recipient of a Project Learning Tree (PLT) GreenWorks! Grant. PLT is the flagship program of the Colorado State Forest Service for reaching younger audiences via professional development workshops for Pre-K–12 educators.

PLT-trained educators can receive GreenWorks! Grants that facilitate partnerships between their students and local communities. Garcia received a GreenWorks! Grant in 2007 for her project at Lincoln Junior High School in Fort Collins, Colo.

The goal of the project was to have her eighth-grade students partner with the local community to build a terrarium where students could see multiple Colorado ecosystems in one place. The students transformed their neglected school atrium into the terrarium, creating an improved learning environment for both the students and the local community.

Programs such as PLT and STEM provide hands-on, learning-by-doing experiences that help students develop their own identities as scientists and environmental stewards.

“I'm always pleased when Colorado educators apply for and receive GreenWorks! Grants, as it indicates that they are using PLT activities and resources to help students achieve academic success while learning to become stewards of our natural resources,” said Shawna Crocker, Colorado PLT Coordinator, Colorado State Forest Service.

“That Dr. Garcia used PLT activities with her students serves as an example to other educators that PLT activities are useful in helping students gain success while achieving state STEM goals.”

Conference Focuses on STEM Education

Last November, Garcia presented at the “Take Flight with the Colorado Collaborative: Building Opportunities for Girls in STEM” conference in Denver. This conference provided the opportunity for Crocker to reconnect with Garcia and explore possibilities for expanding PLT and CSFS outreach into state STEM networks.

The focus of the conference was involving women and minorities in STEM-related careers. Garcia talked about her experience as a first-generation college student from El Salvador and how those experiences influenced her role as a science educator. Throughout her presentation, Garcia emphasized the importance of providing experiences for girls and minorities in hands-on, learning-by-doing STEM education.

El Espejo Program for Girls

Garcia says her “Aha!” moment about motivating students occurred while leading a program, called El Espejo, at the Poudre Learning Center. El Espejo, which is Spanish for "the mirror," allows girls to experience science first-hand.

“El Espejo allowed girls to participate in their own science experiments where they could see that science is fun and build their identities as scientists early on,” said Garcia. “The best way to motivate students to participate in science careers is to give students those early, hands-on experiences.”

Garcia reiterated this theme throughout her presentation at the 2012 STEM conference in Denver, emphasizing that when girls and minorities learn from role models who have succeeded in STEM careers, they are more likely to develop their own scientific identities and become STEM professionals themselves.

Hoping to spark interest in STEM careers, she currently is working on a STEM in Action Program that provides experiential learning opportunities to rural and underrepresented students.

Private Landowner Participation Helps Foresters Monitor Statewide Forest Health

In April, private forest landowners around the state will be receiving letters from the Colorado State Forest Service to request property access to collect essential data about forest health conditions in Colorado.

Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) technician collects data on forested land conditions. Photo: USFS

The requests are part of the National Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program – the principal source of information used to assess the status of America's forests.

CSFS Leads FIA Process in Colorado

Colorado is the first state in the Rocky Mountain Region where leadership of the FIA process has been assumed by a state agency. Here the FIA Program is funded by the USDA Forest Service and conducted on the ground by CSFS personnel. Plots on all land ownership types around the state are randomly selected for possible sampling of current forest health conditions.

“By allowing us access to sample the forest cover on their land, private landowners can help us better understand statewide forest health conditions and make the best possible forest management decisions in the future,” said Aaron Rector, an FIA inventory forester for the CSFS. “We thank those landowners who have replied to our access requests, and especially those who have continued to support our project by allowing us access to their property.”

The program provides data on forest cover, tree species composition, wood volume, tree health and other factors, and provides baseline information to measure changes over time.

First 10-Year Cycle of Inventory Data Completed

In Colorado, 4,500 permanent forest inventory plots have been established statewide; approximately 10 percent of these two-and-a-half-acre plots are examined annually. All sampling is done on foot, using completely non-destructive sampling methods, and data are normally collected in a single day. Landowner information is held confidential and not included in the FIA database.

In 2011, the first 10-year cycle of forest inventory data across Colorado was completed.

For More Information

Private forest landowners who have questions about the FIA program should contact: Andrew Clements, CSFS FIA forester, at andrew.clements@colostate.edu.

Overall FIA Program management questions should be directed to CSFS Interim Forest Management Supervisor, Scott Woods, at scott.woods@colostate.edu.

Colorado State University Names Mike Lester New State Forester

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – On March 22, Colorado State University named Mike Lester the new state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service.

Mike Lester, new state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service.

As state forester, Lester will lead the CSFS to provide for the protection of Colorado's forest resources; ensure forestry education, outreach and technical assistance to private landowners; and carry out the duties of the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

The CSFS is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College, and provides landowners with technical forestry assistance and outreach via 17 district offices located throughout Colorado.

30 Years of Professional Experience

Lester, a CSU alumnus, comes to the CSFS with nearly 30 years of professional experience in state and private forestry. He currently serves as assistant state forester for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, a position in which he is responsible for more than 300 staff, manages 2 million acres of state forest land, oversees the Pennsylvania State nursery manager, and manages a silviculture program that yields $25 million in annual revenues.

“Mike Lester comes to us with a wealth of knowledge, experience and leadership in state and private forestry, and a tremendous passion for Colorado,” said Joyce Berry, dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources. “The critical challenges facing Colorado's forests require the kind of visionary leadership that Mike will bring to the Colorado State Forest Service, and we are very excited that he has accepted this important position.”

Commitment to Service and Lifelong Learning

Lester's resume includes positions with the Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company and the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. He also has served as past president of the Society of American Foresters, an organization he first joined while a natural resources undergraduate student at CSU and in which he has remained actively involved. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the State University of New York and a Master of Forestry from Duke University.

“Colorado's forests are undergoing extraordinary changes that provide many challenges – and tremendous opportunities,” Lester said. “This is an exciting time to be involved in forestry in Colorado, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the skilled and dedicated professionals at the Colorado State Forest Service. As a Colorado State alumnus, I'm also happy to be returning to the place where my career as a professional forester began.”

Previous State Forester Jeff Jahnke retired in 2012 after seven years with the agency. Deputy State Forester Joe Duda has been the acting/interim state forester since March 2012.

Lester will start on July 1, but plans to visit Colorado before then to engage with CSFS personnel.

New Web-Mapping Tool Allows Professional Planners, Landowners to Assess Wildfire Risk

The Colorado State Forest Service has just made available an online mapping tool that will help community leaders, professional planners and interested citizens determine wildfire risk and where forest management actions can achieve the greatest impact to reduce that risk.

Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal

The Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, or CO-WRAP, is a web-mapping tool that provides access to statewide wildfire risk assessment information.

Through CO-WRAP, fire mitigation professionals, prevention planners, natural resource professionals and interested citizens can generate maps and download data and reports that describe defined project areas, such as neighborhoods or watersheds.

The information in the portal is based on geographic information system (GIS) data layers that allow users to view such themes as likelihood of an acre burning, potential fire intensity, historic fire occurrence and values at risk from wildfire.

“Wildland fires continue to threaten people, property, drinking water and forest assets across Colorado, and population growth into wildland-urban interface areas presents major challenges to Colorado residents,” said Joe Duda, interim state forester. “Heightened awareness of wildfire risk and the forest management measures necessary to mitigate that risk are becoming increasingly important to ensure public safety.”

Example of a map generated in the CO-WRAP Public Viewer.

CO-WRAP Features Two Access Levels

  • A professional viewer for community leaders, planning professionals and forestry professionals
  • A public viewer for interested citizens

Professional Viewer

  • This viewer provides access to data and tools for use in creating fire protection or forest stewardship plans, or identifying priority fuels treatment areas.
  • It also allows users to generate detailed risk summary reports for customized land areas – such as neighborhoods, Fire Protection Districts or counties.

Public Viewer

  • This viewer provides a simple-to-use tool that allows users to explore wildfire risk and generate maps for specific locations.

“Whether to increase public awareness about wildfire risk, or to put much-needed information at the fingertips of fire managers, CO-WRAP will be a tremendous asset for Colorado,” said Paul Cooke, director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

To access the CO-WRAP website, go to www.ColoradoWildfireRisk.com.

If you have questions, please refer to our CO-WRAP Q&As (295 KB PDF)

CO-WRAP Informational Flyer (3 MB PDF)

For more information about protecting homes and communities from wildfire, please check our CSFS website.

The Colorado State Forest Service continues to be the lead state agency for providing forest stewardship and wildfire mitigation education to private landowners, following legislation in 2012 that transferred responsibility for wildfire command and control from the CSFS to the newly formed Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Late Winter the Best Time to Prune Trees

Late winter, from mid-February until early March, is the best time to prune most urban trees. Trees are still dormant at this time of year and, unlike in early winter, wound closure will be rapid if pruning occurs just prior to the time new growth emerges.

Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager, demonstrates proper pruning techniques at a workshop.

Although some elms, silver maples, birch and walnut trees exude sap if pruned in the late winter or early spring, this should not harm the tree.

“Once a tree has established a strong root system, usually within three years after planting, proper pruning is essential to develop strong structure and desirable form,” said Keith Wood, community forestry program manager for the Colorado State Forest Service. “Appropriately pruning trees while they are young can help you avoid more expensive tree care later.”

The CSFS offers the following pruning tips:

  • Know what you want to accomplish before you get out the saw – don't remove any branches without a reason.
  • Remove any torn, dead or broken branches.
  • Develop or maintain a dominant leader, and don't cut off the tops of trees.
  • Prevent branches below the permanent canopy from growing upright or too large.
  • Space the main branches along a dominant trunk.
  • Keep all branches less than one-half the trunk diameter.
  • Retain branches with wider angles to the main trunk, as compared to those with tighter angles to the main trunk.
  • Limit pruning of newly planted trees to the removal of dead, damaged or crossing limbs, or those interfering with the main leader.
  • Always prune at the branch collar – the point where one branch joins a larger one.
  • Avoid removing more than 25 percent of a tree's branches in any one year.
  • If the job requires running a chainsaw overhead or removing large branches/entire trees, contact an insured, licensed, certified arborist. A list of these professionals for your area can be found at http://www.isa-arbor.com.

For more information, visit the Trees section of our website.

Forest Health Report Released: Bark Beetle Epidemics Only One Concern

On Feb. 20, the Colorado State Forest Service released the 2012 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests at the annual Joint Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Hearing at the State Capitol. The report details forest health concerns, including insect and disease activity, that span the state.

2012 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests: Forest Stewardship through Active Management. Photo: Bill Cotton

“Colorado's forest health concerns are not limited to bark beetles in high-elevation forests. We face a broad spectrum of concerns that impact our mountains, plains and urban forests,” said Joe Duda, interim state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service. Duda spoke on Feb. 20 at the Joint Ag Committee hearing.

“Only through sound forest management can we ensure that our future forests provide the resources and benefits that will meet the needs of current and future generations,” he said.

Each year, the Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests provides information to the Colorado General Assembly and citizens of Colorado about the health and condition of forests across the state. The report provides figures and maps detailing major insect and disease concerns in the state, including bark beetles and invasive urban tree pests.

According to the report, for the first time in recent decades, the acreage impacted by spruce beetle surpassed that of the mountain pine beetle, with a total of 311,000 acres of active infestation mapped in 2012. Mountain pine beetle-impacted acreage declined for the fourth consecutive year, but the beetle continued to be active on 264,000 acres of ponderosa, lodgepole and limber pine forests.

This is the 12th consecutive year the CSFS has produced a report on the state of Colorado's forests and actions it is taking to mitigate forest health concerns. The theme of this year's report is "Forest Stewardship through Active Management," with an emphasis on the link between healthy forests and forest management.

The principal source of information for the forest health report is the annual aerial forest health survey, a cooperative project between the CSFS and the Rocky Mountain Region of the USDA Forest Service. Other data sources include field inspections, CSFS contacts with forest landowners and special surveys designed to help ensure early detection of potentially invasive insect species.

Copies of the 2012 forest health report are available at CSFS district offices. The report also can be viewed online in our publications library under Colorado's Forests.

Public Forums: Candidates for CSFS Director/State Forester

The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) has selected three final candidates for the position of CSFS Director/State Forester, each of whom will be interviewed later this month.

Colorado State Forest Service logo

Following meetings at the Capitol, the candidates will visit the CSU Denver Center and Colorado State University for a series of open forums. If you are unable to attend, the forums at CSU's Lory Student Center will be webcast; however, you will need to register to participate.

For more information about the search and to view webcasts of the forums at Lory Student Center, visit: https://warnercnr.colostate.edu/csfs-forester.

We invite you to join us for the meetings with the candidates, where you may ask questions and get to know each applicant.

Below are the three candidates, with the dates and times for each of their meetings:

CSFS Director Candidate Open Forums — CSU Denver Center
475 17th Street, Denver, CO, 80202
February 21, 2013
10-11:00 a.m.
Mr. Eric Carlson
President and CEO of the Empire State Forest Products Association
February 25, 2013
10-11:00 a.m.
Mr. Michael Lester
Assistant State Forester, Field Operations, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry
February 27, 2013
10-11:00 a.m.
Mr. Nathan McClure
Chief Forester, Forest Utilization and Markets Department, Georgia Forestry Commission

CSFS Director Candidate Open Forums — Lory Student Center
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Lory Student Center, Room 214-216
February 22, 2013
10-11:30 a.m.
Mr. Eric Carlson
President and CEO of the Empire State Forest Products Association
February 26, 2013
10-11:30 a.m.
Mr. Michael Lester
Assistant State Forester, Field Operations, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry
February 28, 2013
10-11:30 a.m.
Mr. Nathan McClure
Chief Forester, Forest Utilization and Markets Department, Georgia Forestry Commission

U.S. Forest Service and CSFS Announce 2012 Aerial Forest Health Survey Results

On Feb. 6, the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service released the results of the annual aerial forest health survey in Colorado.

The spruce beetle outbreak is expanding, with 183,000 new acres detected in 2012. The adult beetle is approximately 1/4-inch. Photo: W.M. Ciesla

The survey indicates that the spread of the mountain pine beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically, while the spruce beetle outbreak is expanding.

Mountain Pine Beetle

The mountain pine beetle epidemic expanded by 31,000 acres, down from last year's reported increase of 140,000 acres. This brings the total infestation to nearly 3.4 million acres in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996.

Most mature lodgepole pine trees have now been depleted within the initial mountain pine beetle epidemic area. However, the infestation remains active from Estes Park to Leadville.

Spruce Beetle

In contrast, the spruce beetle outbreak is expanding, with 183,000 new acres detected in 2012, bringing the total acreage affected since 1996 to nearly 1 million acres (924,000).

The areas experiencing the most significant activity are on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southern Colorado.

Spruce beetles typically attack spruce trees downed by high winds. Once the populations of spruce beetles build up in the fallen trees, the stressed trees surrounding them offer little resistance to attack.

Similar to mountain pine beetle, the increase in spruce beetle activity is due to factors that increase tree stress, including densely stocked stands, ongoing drought conditions and warmer winters.

Read more in the release

Additional information will be available later this month with the release of the 2012 Report on the Health of Colorado's Forests.

Now is the Time to Address Home, Community Wildfire Mitigation

With the ongoing drought, low snowpack, and recent brush fires and Red Flag Warnings in effect along the Front Range in Colorado, the Colorado State Forest Service reminds landowners to prepare their homes now for possible wildfire.

Defensible space around this home was created to reduce wildfire hazard. Photo by: C. Randall

“Although there is no guarantee firefighters will be able to save your home during a wildfire, the odds increase if you follow the best-available mitigation guidelines,” said Lisa Mason, outreach forester for the CSFS and Colorado's "Are You FireWise?" program manager. “It's a good idea to get started now, before wildfire danger increases this spring.”

The CSFS recently updated its two principal guides for protecting property from wildfire. FireWise Construction: Site Design & Building Materials (1.3 MB PDF) and Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones (738 KB PDF) were developed by experts in the fields of wildfire behavior and FireWise construction practices.

Although much of the information in the guides was unmodified from previous years, several important changes were made based on lessons learned from recent wildfires in the wildland-urban interface. Among these changes is an added emphasis on:

  • the ongoing need for year-round maintenance of surface fuels around the home, such as mowing grass and raking up thick beds of pine needles;
  • the importance of keeping gutters, decks and roofs free of pine needles and other combustibles year-round;
  • understanding how wildfires may start from burning ember showers, and not just direct heat and flame, and;
  • describing fuels mitigation in specific forest types.

Information about developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans also is available on our website.

The Colorado State Forest Service continues to be the lead state agency for providing forest stewardship and wildfire mitigation assistance to private landowners, following legislation in 2012 that transferred responsibility for wildfire command and control from the CSFS to the newly formed Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Funding Now Available for Forest Restoration Projects

Colorado landowners and communities that want to protect forested areas from severe wildfire and other forest health concerns may be eligible for grant funding from the Colorado State Forest Service.

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks forest restoration project before treatment (above) and after treatment (below).

The CSFS is now accepting proposals for the Colorado Forest Restoration Grant Program, which helps fund projects that demonstrate a community-based approach to forest restoration. Proposals are due by Feb. 27, and must address protection of water supplies or related infrastructure, as well as the restoration of forested watersheds.

Projects should focus on mitigating threats that affect watershed health, such as the build-up of wildland fuels that increase the risk for severe wildfires, which could negatively impact watersheds. Specific project goals also could include preserving older trees, replanting deforested areas and improving the use of small-diameter trees as forest products.

“We encourage forest restoration proposals to engage the Colorado Youth Corps,” said Naomi Marcus, CSFS assistant staff forester. “The Colorado Youth Corps helps connect Colorado youth to the importance of providing protection to our watersheds and communities.”

Projects must be located in communities with a CSFS-approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The state can fund up to 60 percent of each awarded project; grant recipients are required to match at least 40 percent of the total project cost through cash or in-kind contributions, which can include federal funds.

An interdisciplinary technical advisory panel, convened by the CSFS in partnership with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, will review project applications. The CSFS will notify successful applicants by this summer.

Applications and additional information about the Forest Restoration Grant Program are available at local CSFS District offices or on our Funding Opportunities web page.

Green-up the New Year; Recycle Your Holiday Tree

Trees are a valuable renewable resource, and recycling holiday trees naturally contributes to the process of giving these evergreens a second life.

Chipping the trees for mulch or compost is a common recycling practice. Many community recycling programs use the mulch in flower beds and around trees, and the wood chips also provide natural material for walkways and trails. Some programs allow residents to pick up the free mulch in the spring for personal landscaping purposes.

Many recycling centers and county landfills chip holiday trees for mulch or compost.

Prepare your tree for recycling by removing all ornaments, lights, tinsel, hooks, nails, wire, garland and any wrapping used to transport the tree. Flocked and artificial trees are not accepted at drop-off sites.

To locate a tree recycling program in your county, please visit the Recycle Your Tree website or contact your local recycling center or landfill.

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