Planting trees, educating kids about the benefits of the outdoors, developing policies to protect Colorado’s forests and helping homeowners reduce their wildfire risk are all part of the Colorado State Forest Service’s mission to take good care of our forests and trees. But it’s impossible for the CSFS to do it all alone. That’s why we rely on partners and volunteers to help us get this important work done.

The CSFS wholeheartedly thanks everyone who worked with us or volunteered with us in 2021. Each year we recognize partners and volunteers who really went above and beyond. Meet the outstanding partners and volunteers from 2021.

Molly Pitts Assists Several CSFS Programs

woman stands with hiking sticks just below a melting ice patch in the mountains
Molly Pitts, Executive Director of CTIA, is the 2021 Partner of the Year.

Molly Pitts, executive director of the Colorado Timber Industry Association, supported the CSFS in many ways last year. She provided technical advice to the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation grant program. Pitts served on the Best Management Practices Monitoring Team to ensure safe water, and she participated as a subject matter expert for a programmatic review of our Wood Utilization and Marketing program. For her many ways of supporting and cooperating with the CSFS, she received the CSFS Partner of the Year award for 2021.

“I know there is a lot of great work getting done in Colorado by a lot of hard-working people who are passionate about forest management. Therefore, I am very humbled to have been chosen as CSFS’ Partner of the Year,” said Pitts. “I am excited to continue working with the CSFS and other partners moving forward to get the critical work we need done on the ground.”


Kathy Self Brings Trees to Small Community

surrounded by schoolchildren, a woman stands behind a newly planted coniferous seedling.
Kathy Self, of Springfield, Colo., is the 2021 Volunteer of the Year.

Kathy Self, Tree Board Chair for the Town of Springfield for more than 30 years, is the driving force behind the beautiful Memorial Park that serves as a shady retreat in this southeastern Colorado community. For her unparalleled vision and dedication to planting trees in Springfield, the CSFS named Self its Volunteer of the Year for 2021.

“Trees that line the streets of any town are very inviting. I am motivated to plant trees to simply beautify our small town. They keep our streets cooler in the summer, protect us from the cold harsh winter winds, provide an environment for wildlife, but most importantly, they create a wonderful environment for children. I feel compelled to plant trees in Springfield because childhood memories can include the trees in a backyard or old neighborhood. The sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable,” said Self.

Thanks to Self’s commitment to tree health in her community, the Town of Springfield has been a proud Tree City USA for more than 30 years. Last year, she supported work through a U.S. Forest Service grant that enabled removal of 39 dead or dying trees at the pre-school, in parks and along community streets. Self worked one-on-one with private landowners to secure a 50/50 cost share as part of the grant, and she helped purchase trees and get them planted in the community.

Amy Schwarzbach Leads Fuels Reduction Effort

smiling woman looks directly at the camera as she stands on a dirt road in front of some trees
Amy Schwarzbach, Natural Resources Manager for the City of Durango, received the Partner Special Recognition award for 2021.

In 2021, Amy Schwarzbach, Natural Resources Manager for the City of Durango, worked tirelessly to reduce wildfire fuels in more than 80 acres of city lands next to 300 or more homes. This work took place on sensitive, steep and difficult-to-access lands. For her dedication to reducing wildfire risk to homes and open spaces in Durango, the CSFS honored Schwarzbach with a Partner Special Recognition award for 2021.

“Amy’s efforts resulted in the treatment of important acres, and she set the standard for a local collaborative project planning and implementation model,” said Mark Loveall, Supervisory Forester of Forest Planning & Implementation in the CSFS Durango Field Office. “Amy Schwarzbach is a big reason that Durango is recognized worldwide for the quality of life it offers!”

Thanks in large part to Schwarzbach’s efforts, the CSFS is reaching its goal of enhancing mutually beneficial partnerships, promoting shared stewardship across boundaries and leveraging resources. She has lifted the visibility of the CSFS in Durango and the entire region.

Michele Mandeville Has Passion for Outdoor Education

woman dressed in winter clothes stands in front of tree and looks directly at the camera.
Michele Mandeville’s work with Project Learning Tree earned her a Volunteer Special Recognition award.

Michele Mandeville is an enthusiastic volunteer who seems never to run out of energy for helping young people experience the outdoors. As a Project Learning Tree (PLT) facilitator, she was instrumental in providing PLT activities to kids safely and effectively during the pandemic. For her unwavering commitment to educating students and educators about the value of forests and trees, the CSFS honored Mandeville with a Volunteer Special Recognition award for 2021.

“PLT is an important tool that the CSFS has for teaching youth across Colorado about the importance of the states’ trees and forests. This program would not be successful without the effort of key volunteers like Michele,” said Danielle Ardrey, Conservation & Youth Education Specialist for the CSFS. “Her role in facilitating professional development workshops for educators, leading PLT activities with youth and recruiting new volunteers has been instrumental. I am excited about this award recognizing and celebrating Michele’s efforts. Congratulations!”

Congratulations and thank you to these four women for their incredible achievements and sincere commitment. Working together with partners and volunteers is a rewarding and effective way to manage the health of Colorado’s forests into the future.