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Colorado State Forest Service News

Partners Improve Forest Health Across Boundaries

aerial view of an alpine forested landscape
Aerial drone photo shows the project area in Douglas County, Colo., with proximity to the down wind local communities. CSFS photo

In October 2022, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) Franktown Field Office completed fuels reduction and forest management on 250 acres of private and Douglas County Open Space lands. This area near Larkspur, Colo., contains private lands as well as public lands managed by several entities, so directing forest management across this landscape is like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle. The CSFS leads the strategic planning and implementation of the Greater Larkspur Ranch and Community Fuels Mitigation Project (GLRCFMP).

About the project

The GLRCFMP has three phases. The 250 acres treated in October 2022 was actually Phase 2. It built on Phase 1, treatment of 270 acres in 2021, and Phase 3 is slated to begin Spring 2023.

This project focuses on removing standing dead trees. In 2015 an outbreak of Douglas-fir Tussock Moth (DFTM) caused near 100 percent mortality of Douglas-fir, the dominant tree of these forests. Removing the standing dead trees directly reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfire to the 2,000 full-time residents and 900 homes within the community. This action provides many other benefits to the Town of Larkspur and surrounding areas as well:

  • Encourages healthy regeneration
  • Improves habitat for wildlife
  • Protects watershed and power infrastructure
  • Provides safer recreational opportunities

What happens to the wood

To date, more than 9 million pounds of wood products have been harvested from this project. The CSFS coordinated with local forest product industry partners to turn the standing dead into useful products, such as firewood and saw logs. Using local partners keeps costs down and helps local wood processing businesses. Using harvested wood is an integral part of successfully managing Colorado’s forests.

Looking ahead

spacious Douglas-fir forest on a sunny day
Part of the project area after forestry operations have completed,
resulting in a stand of healthy trees with the dead and dying trees removed. CSFS photo

Phase 3 will begin in Spring 2023. Another 180 acres will be addressed, bringing the entire treatment area to approximately 700 acres. The end results include a healthy forest and a substantially lower risk of wildfire for this rural community. The CSFS will continue to grow this project and has already begun meeting with nearby landowners to build on these successes.

Large-landscape projects in areas with multiple partners and stakeholders can be complicated, but they’re necessary to support healthy and resilient forests across Colorado. The 17 field offices of the CSFS allow the agency to provide leadership and technical expertise in local communities. The Franktown Field Office is an excellent example of this. By leading forest treatments in this area since the 2000s, the Franktown Field Office is in a unique position to organize community planning, acquire multiple grants and then implement the forest management projects.

Cooperating Partners

The CSFS relies on and appreciates the work of our cooperating partners on this project:

  • USFS South Platte Ranger District
  • Denver Water
  • Larkspur Fire Department
  • Douglas County government (OEM & Open Space and Department of Natural Resources)
  • Perry Park Metro District community (PPMD)
  • Haystack Ranch
  • Private landowners

Learn more about this project and other work in the Franktown Field Office.