History of the Colorado State Forest
The Colorado State Forest was officially established on December 2, 1938, with President Franklin Roosevelt’s issuance of a patent to the state of Colorado for 70,980 acres.
In 1876, after three efforts at statehood, Colorado was granted admission into the Union. Upon admission, the federal government granted, in trust to the state of Colorado, approximately 4.5 million acres of land for the specific purpose of generating revenue to support state schools. (Congress granted lands to all western states for use in establishing and maintaining public schools.) In the original grant, Colorado received sections 16 and 36 in every township.
The resulting pattern of state school land provides the state with incentives to pursue land exchanges and sales or exchanges of “in-holdings” of state parcels within federal lands for contiguous blocks of federal land. The Colorado State Forest (CSF) was created through such an exchange.
The CSF was officially established on December 2, 1938, with President Franklin Roosevelt’s issuance of a patent to the state of Colorado for 70,980 acres. The property was the product of a land exchange between the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners (SLB) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The land exchange was initiated in 1934 with the SLB offer to trade in-holdings for school sections 16 and 36 within selected USFS boundaries in Colorado for a contiguous parcel of land.
The CSF is a unique piece of state trust land with its own enabling legislation that established the name “Colorado State Forest.” It also specifically called for the SLB to “provide for and extend the practice of…forestry” on the CSF.
The SLB continued to manage the multiple uses that were in the area when it was acquired. Grazing, recreation and forestry have all been traditional uses of the CSF. In 1971, Colorado State Parks began managing recreation through an agreement with the SLB. Grazing on the forest is managed through a grazing association.
The Colorado State Forest (CSF) has a long history of forest management. An extensive harvesting program on the forest was overseen by Land Board foresters from about 1940 to 1970. The timber harvesting program supported several large logging camps, including the Bockman Lumber Camp. This was the largest logging camp in Colorado history and more than 100 men and their families once lived and worked at this camp.
The harvesting peaked in 1955 when almost 10 million board feet were cut on the forest. The level and visibility of the harvesting activity created some public controversy by the mid-1960s, and by the early 1970s the last of the lumber camps had closed. The State Land Board (SLB) contracted with the Colorado State Forest Service in 1986 to manage the forest resources on the state forest.