Planting trees in post-fire areas helps restoration
Mike Hughes, forester with the CSFS Fort
Collins Field Office, and his son plant seedling trees after the 2012 High
Park Fire.
Photo: Ryan Lockwood, CSFS

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – With the scars of destructive 2018 wildfires still highly visible throughout Colorado, and affected families still working toward recovery, many in the state want to know what they can do to help.

One way to have a positive impact on affected forests and communities is through the replanting of trees, which is the goal of the donor-driven Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund.

Donations made to the Colorado State Forest Service-administered fund are used to provide seedlings for planting in areas impacted by wildfires, floods or other disasters, with an emphasis on areas critical to water protection, wildlife habitat and public benefit.

Every $2 donation to the fund purchases one seedling, at no cost to the landowner. Since the CSFS established the program in 2003, its nursery has used program funds to provide more than 122,000 trees.

“Planting trees provides an important means to help stabilize soils, protect water supplies and restore the landscape as we address the long-term recovery of our communities and forests,” said Mike Lester, state forester and CSFS director.

The CSFS nursery in Fort Collins grows all the seedling trees for the program, to ensure that only those best adapted to local conditions are used for restoration efforts.

Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund

This year, the CSFS received an $11,000 donation to the Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund from the Girl Scouts of Colorado, in honor of the organization’s volunteers. The donation, which represents the second large contribution from GSCO in the last two years, is intended to amplify the organization’s impacts toward reforestation efforts in Colorado.

“In recognition of all the amazing things that our volunteers do, we chose the gift of trees that will also have a lasting and positive impact by helping to restore forested areas in our beautiful state,” said Girl Scouts of Colorado President and CEO Stephanie A. Foote.

Following recent fires near Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Durango, the loss of trees and other vegetation led to significant runoff and erosion.

The CSFS and Girl Scouts of Colorado continue building on a partnership largely intended to help youth gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of trees and forests in Colorado. As part of this effort, in June CSFS staff partnered with GSCO to help educate hundreds of Girl Scouts and their parents about forestry, the environment and related careers at a World Environment Day event at the Meadow Mountain Ranch near Allenspark.

In the past decade, the Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund has used donations from individuals and organizations like GSCO for replanting efforts, in locations that include the burn scars of the High Park Fire west of Fort Collins, the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs and the Weber Fire near Durango.

Following those fires, the loss of trees and other vegetation led to significant runoff and erosion – resulting in damaged hillsides, polluted waterways, highway closures and road damage.