Montrose District

Forest Management & Stewardship


Forest management by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) provides sound forestry recommendations and implementation assistance to private landowners, communities and cooperating agencies in order to improve forest amenities such as tree health, wildlife habitat, soil and water conservation, forest products and recreational opportunities. We accomplish this through a variety of forest management services and through the CSFS seedling tree program. The Colorado State Forest Service also is a sponsor of the Forest Stewardship Program, a national effort at forest planning and recognition for forest landowners.

Colorado Forest Legacy

Development of the Colorado's forested areas poses an increasing threat to maintaining the integrity of our state's valuable forest lands. Intact forest lands supply timber products, enhance wildlife habitat, protect soils and watersheds, enhance aesthetics and provide recreational opportunities. However, as these valuable areas are fragmented and disappear, so do the benefits they provide. While local governments often guide development away from the most sensitive areas through traditional land use controls (e.g., zoning and performance standards), these measures sometimes are not sufficient to fully protect our forests.

The Forest Legacy Program (FLP), a federally-funded and state-administered program, supports efforts to protect private forest lands that are environmentally, economically and socially critical. Designed to encourage the protection of privately-owned forest lands, FLP is an entirely voluntary program. To achieve maximum public benefits, the program focuses on the acquisition of partial interests in privately-owned forest lands (conservation easements). FLP helps the states develop and carry out their forest conservation plans by encouraging and supporting the acquisition of conservation easements (legally binding agreements transferring a negotiated set of property rights from one party to another) without removing the property from private ownership. Most FLP conservation easements restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices and protect other values.

Tree Farm Program

CSFS is a co-sponsor of the American Tree Farm System, a national program which encourages private forest owners to effectively grow trees as a crop by sharing information and through recognition. Certified Tree Farmers receive a Tree Farm certificate, sign, regular mailings of the American Tree Farmer magazine (from the American Forest Foundation) and tree farm newsletters from their own state tree farm committee.

CSFS Seedling Tree Program

Availability of Nursery-grown Seedling Trees

Our seedling tree nursery, located in Ft. Collins, grows more than 2 million seedlings each year. These trees are available at nominal cost to rural landowners who own at least two acres of land. The aim of our seedling tree program is to encourage landowners to plant effective wind barriers to protect buildings, cropland, and feedlots, and to assist in erosion control, wildlife habitat (175 KB PDF), reforestation and Christmas tree plantations. Participating landowners must agree not to use the trees for ornamental or landscaping purposes nor resell the trees as living plants. Contact your local nursery for ornamental needs.

Seedling tree order forms are available through our seedling tree cooperators (usually your local Colorado State University Extension or Soil Conservation District, or through our office or the state nursery. More than 50 species of trees and shrubs are available in bundles of 50 (bare root) or lots of 30 (potted). A variety of deciduous and coniferous species are available beginning in late October; the best selection is assured by ordering before mid-January. Trees are delivered to a central distribution point in the spring; you will be notified of the exact pickup date and location after your order is placed.

The 28-page full color Buyer’s Guide (1.8 MB PDF) is now available online.

For more information, see the Montrose District Seedling Tree Program web page.

Tree Planting Assistance

The Montrose District is available for on-site tree planting assistance. This ranges from the design and planning of large-scale plantings to the actual installation of windbreaks, wildlife habitat or reforestation projects. We have several tree planting implements available for rent, including tree planting plows and a special fabric implement that lays down weed barrier fabric and covers the edges in one operation.

Forest Inventory and Analysis

The Montrose District houses one of seven foresters whose main focus is to collect data for Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA). The Interior West Inventory and Analysis Project conducts multi-resource inventories in the Interior West States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The mission of FIA is to improve the understanding and management of our nation's forests by measuring, assessing and reporting on the extent, condition and health of the forestland of the Interior West on a continuous, annual basis.

For more information, contact Casey Harrison.

Forest Management Assistance through CSFS

Forest Management and Timber Harvest Plans

Good management begins with a sound management plan designed to meet a landowner’s needs. A management plan will identify the landowners’ objectives for their property, describe the resources present and recommend specific practices needed to attain these objectives. The plan involves an in-depth inventory of the timber as well as the other resources on the property such as range and/or wildlife. When writing a management plan, we often consult with other natural resource professionals from, for example, the Natural Resources Conservation Service or the Colorado Division of Wildlife, for their expertise so that the plan is as interdisciplinary as possible.

CSFS also is the primary review agency for county planning departments that require logging logging plans as part of a land use application.

Timber Cruising/Mapping

Timber cruising is the process of determining the amount (in cubic feet, board feet or weight) of timber on a given unit (usually acres) of land. Accepted statistical sampling procedures must be used and the accuracy of the “cruise” must be calculated in order to be valid. A qualified professional forester with no financial interest in the sale of your timber should conduct your timber cruise. Sometimes, a landowner may be interested in simply cruising or mapping a particular property or timber stand to determine possible sale potential or value. The CSFS has developed a spreadsheet and stand-alone DOS executable programs for volume determination of all commercial timber species in Colorado. In addition, we incorporate the latest GPS, CADD and GIS capabilities into our mapping of your forested property.

Insect and Disease Surveys

The CSFS is available to assess your forested lands for insect and disease occurrence and to make recommendations for control where needed. This service is provided as part of any management plan, and also is available to individual lot owners or homeowner associations concerned with specific pests (e.g., Ips engraver beetle, mountain pine beetle, western cedar bark beetles (62 KB PDF), or spruce budworm. A diagnostic lab available is available through Colorado State University that can further study samples.

Learn more about Insects and Diseases in Colorado

Timber Sale Preparation/Administration

A wise seller will know the amount and value of any commodity for sale; this is especially true when selling timber. We offer commercial timber sale layout, marking, cruising (volume determination) and traversing for acreage calculation. We also can prepare timber sale contracts, and have an extensive bidder’s list to assist in offering a sale whether it’s a few cords of firewood or several million board feet of sawlogs.

CSFS emphasizes on-the-ground implementation of sound forest management principles. Most of the above services provided through our office require a user fee, which is covered through a standard CSFS service agreement that outlines what we will do for you at what cost.

Forest Agricultural Property Tax

In 1990, the Colorado legislature enacted House Bill 1229, allowing certain forested properties to qualify for agricultural property tax status. A landowner owning at least 40 acres of forested land, and willing to manage the property to produce wood products, is now eligible to receive agricultural tax status without necessarily grazing or farming the land (CRS 39-1-102 - 69 KB PDF). The CSFS is responsible for annually reviewing these properties and making recommendations to county tax assessors regarding “Forest Ag” eligibility.

Learn more about “Forest Ag”

Cost-share Assistance Programs

Several cost-share programs are available to private landowners.

Learn more about Programs for Homeowner and Landowners

Consultant and Forest Industries Referrals

The Montrose District maintains a directory of forest-based private professionals (72 KB PDF) who are available to assist landowners with their forest management needs. In addition, we assist the production of a Colorado Forest Industries Directory (updated 2004, 368 KB PDF) that lists many of the primary and secondary processors, fuelwood suppliers and logging contractors available to private landowners.