Blair Rynearson, Colorado State Forest managerGOULD, Colo. – The Colorado State Forest Service recently hired a new manager for the Colorado State Forest, a state trust property in the mountains of northcentral Colorado.

Blair Rynearson took the helm as manager of the State Forest in July. He has served as a forester there since 2018. Based out of the CSFS State Forest Field Office in Gould, he will steward about 58,000 acres of forestland and a facility with buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Colorado State Forest is a special place,” Rynearson said. “Improving and maintaining the health of the forest is a great responsibility, and future management will prioritize working with all the stakeholders who value its resources.”

Forest Health Top Priority

As manager of the Colorado State Forest, Rynearson said his primary focus is on improving the health of the forest. The State Forest experienced a mountain pine beetle outbreak from 2005 to 2012, so the bulk of forest management work there is salvaging beetle-killed trees while the wood still holds value. This will help regenerate a healthier forest, while reducing the potential for a large-scale wildfire, improving wildlife habitat, helping ensure visitor safety and access, and supporting the local wood products industry.

Rynearson said he works closely with many diverse stakeholders at the State Forest, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which manages recreation at State Forest State Park. From removing dead trees around cabins, campgrounds and roads, to facilitating research, to maintaining historic buildings that date to the 1920s, it is all a part of the job as the Colorado State Forest manager.

Challenges Ahead

With two decades as a forester and an advanced degree in forestry, Rynearson said that he looks forward to carrying on the legacy of past State Forest managers and facing the challenges ahead.

In 2020, three large wildfires threatened the Colorado State Forest and burned roughly 580,000 acres in close proximity to the State Forest. The risk of wildfire in northern Colorado has increased over the last 20 years because of warmer summers, earlier snowmelt, ongoing drought and overgrown forests full of beetle-killed trees. While current beetle activity remains at natural levels on the State Forest, Rynearson said he is concerned about a recent uptick in sub-alpine fir decline, as well as a historic blowdown event in September of last year that could fuel an increase in the spruce bark beetle population.

For more information about the Colorado State Forest, or to contact Rynearson, please call (970) 723-4505 or visit csfs.colostate.edu/colorado-state-forest.

More About the Colorado State Forest

Established in 1938, the Colorado State Forest is a 71,000-acre property (with 58,000 acres of forestland) in northcentral Colorado owned by the State Land Board. Here forestry, grazing, recreation and wildlife coexist on a working landscape that generates revenue for Colorado public schools. The Colorado State Forest Service manages the forest resources through an agreement with the State Land Board.