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Colorado State Forest Service News

$5.3 Million Investment in CSFS Nursery Plants Seeds for Future Growth

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – On a cloudy, cool May morning, Governor Jared Polis visited the Colorado State Forest Service Seedling Tree Nursery to sign House Bill 23-1060 into law. This bill, Updates to State Forest Service Tree Nursery, funds $5.3 million of upgrades and improvements to the nursery and builds on a $5 million investment in the nursery that passed in the previous session. The new funds are a crucial next step in modernizing key infrastructure that will allow the nursery to assist in vital reforestation efforts in Colorado and other Western states.

Man standing at podium speaks to audience as row of presenters stands behind table
Larimer County commissioners, CSU President Amy Parsons, Rep. Tammy Story and CSFS staff join Governor Polis as he signs a bill that provides $5.3 million in funding to the CSFS Nursery. Photo: CSFS/Peterson

“This makes a $5.3 million investment for the upgrades to the tree nursery, which is so important for healthy ecosystems, especially in the face of a changing climate and of fires. We need the most up-to-date science about reseeding and where and what species. The Colorado State tree nursery is really the hub for the entire state for this important work of forest health,” Governor Polis said.

Value of reforestation

Planting seedling trees provides many long-term benefits. As a conservation effort, it is one of the most enduring activities people can do after a fire. Replanting trees enhances wildlife habitat, reduces soil erosion and protects water supplies. And the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control reports that the 20 largest wildfires in Colorado history have occurred since 2001. The Cameron Peak Fire in 2020 burned 208,913 acres, making it the largest wildfire in Colorado by area.

According to The Nature Conservancy’s site The Reforestation Hub, Colorado has some 2.66 million acres that could benefit from reforestation. Reforesting these areas could capture 1.77 million tons of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to removing 382,000 cars from the road.

“We are really looking forward to having more seedlings to better reforest those areas in Colorado that have been heavily decimated by significant wildfire in the last couple of years,” Rep. Tammy Story said. Story and Sen. Lisa Cutter were the prime sponsors for House Bill 23-1060.

CSU President Amy Parsons, State Forester Matt McCombs and Larimer County Commissioners John Kefalas, Kristin Stephens and Jody Shadduck-McNally were all present in support of the bill signing alongside Gov. Polis and Rep. Story. 

People look at seedling trees in greenhouse
Gov. Polis, CSU President Amy Parsons and Rep. Tammy Story examine seedlings in the greenhouses at the CSFS Nursery. Photo: CSFS/Peterson

Much-needed funding

The CSFS Seedling Tree Nursery plays a critical role in providing plant materials for landowners and land managers in Colorado. The nursery is located on the Foothills Campus of Colorado State University and is the state’s leader in producing low-cost, Colorado-grown seedling trees and shrubs for conservation purposes. The nursery was established in 1957, and most of the infrastructure is outdated for what is required of a nursery operation in 2023. Some 130 acres allow for field production of bare-root seedlings, and the nursery has 18,000 square feet of greenhouse space for container plants. This new funding will address specific needs to modernize and increase production:

  • Seed storage and seedling processing improvements
  • Delivery trucks
  • Bare-root field upgrades, such as an overhauled irrigation system
  • Shade house upgrades and expansion

These investments in upgrading and expanding the greenhouses, shade houses and bare-root infrastructure will allow the CSFS Nursery to double its annual production of seedling trees that are in high demand to restore and protect critical watersheds after wildfire and flood events on Colorado’s forests.  

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