Forest Health and Colorado Private Forestlands Forum

Mar 25th @ 7:25 am in News by Scott Staley

Gunnison_National_Forest

Date: April 2, 2013 (Tuesday)
Time: 9:30 to 4:00 PM
Location: Montrose County Fairgrounds: 1001 N 2nd Street, Montrose CO

Commissioner Doug Atchley of Delta County and Commissioner Ron Henderson of Montrose County invite the community to an educational forum for private landowners who may be affected by the rapid escalation of bark beetle pressure on the Grand Mesa and recent pressure further south on the Gunnison National Forest. Throughout Colorado forest health issues have affected over 6 million acres on our state, private and national forests. The 2012 Forest Health Report indicated that pressure is now increasing in SW Colorado which motivated this outreach effort (USFS Press Release attached).

The forum will present knowledgeable speakers to discuss forest health and specifics on the escalating spruce bark beetle pressure. Roy Mask, Entomologist and Service Center Leader for the USFS and Acting State Forester, Joe Duda will keynote the forum. Several panels will be present to inform the audience about access to services including:
 a panel of the Colorado State Forest Service District Rangers,
 a panel on forestry best practices and safety,
 a panel on past treatments on neighboring forests, and
 a final discussion of lessons learned by the utilities as they worked to protect public infrastructure across the mountain pine beetle forests in Northern Colorado.

Several groups are helping to co-sponsor this outreach including the Public Lands Partnership, Montrose Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and Delta County Economic Development (DCED).

Please RSVP to Patricia at MEDC (970) 249-9438 or email: patriciac@montroseedc.org. Lunch will be provided at a cost of $10 per person (cash or check) payable at the door.  For questions or more information contact: Nancy Fishering at (970) 249-1767.
U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service Announce Results of 2012 Aerial Forest Health Survey
Release Date: Feb 6, 2013 Golden, CO
Contact(s): Chris Strebig, 303-275-5346, Ryan Lockwood, 970-491-8970
DENVER, Feb. 6, 2013— The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service today released the results of the annual aerial forest health surveyin Colorado, which indicates that the spread of the mountain pine beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically, while the spruce beetle outbreak is expanding.

The mountain pine beetle epidemic expanded by 31,000 acres, down from last year’s reported increase of 140,000 acres. This brings the total infestation to nearly 3.4 million acres in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996. Most mature lodgepole pine trees have now been depleted within the initial mountain pine beetle epidemic area. However, the infestation remains active from Estes Park to Leadville.
In contrast, the spruce beetle outbreak is expanding, with 183,000 new acres detected in 2012, bringing the total acreage affected since 1996 to nearly 1 million acres (924,000). The areas experiencing the most significant activity are on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southern Colorado.

Spruce beetles typically attack spruce trees downed by high winds. Once the populations of spruce beetles build up in the fallen trees, the stressed trees surrounding them offer little resistance to attack.  Similar to mountain pine beetle, the increase in spruce beetle activity is due to factors that increase tree stress, including densely stocked stands, ongoing drought conditions and warmer winters.

“Now more than ever it is important that we work across the entire landscape to ensure forests are more resilient for generations to come,”said Dan Jirón, Regional Forester for the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. “A vibrant forest products industry, aggressive community actions, strong collaborative efforts and targeted high-priority projects will allow us to make progress to promote forests more suitable for an uncertain future climate.”

“The spruce beetle epidemic in our high-elevation forests demonstrates the breadth and complexity of issues affecting Colorado’s forests,” said Joe Duda, Interim State Forester and Director of the Colorado State Forest Service. “Active forest management and a viable forest products industry will allow landowners and land management agencies to expand forest treatments on lands available for management, while reducing wildfire risk and protecting important natural resources and
infrastructure.”

In late 2012, two 10-year stewardship contracts were awarded by the U.S. Forest Service to improve forest resiliency on 20,000 acres affected by the mountain pine beetle on the Medicine Bow-Routt and White River National Forests. These contracts are in addition to the Front Range and Pagosa Springs Long-Term Stewardship Contracts awarded previously. The contracts reduce forest health treatment costs and foster new uses of beetle-killed forest products to benefit forest resiliency and jobs.  The forest products industry is better positioned as mills come on line to take advantage of trees being removed from forested lands across Colorado. The U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service and partners are working to provide a reliable and predictable supply of biomass for new markets.

“Over the past several years, theForest Service has worked with local, state and private partners to increase our collective ability to improve forest health and reduce wildland fire and public safety risks,” said Jirón. “From encouraging biomass projects, to aggressively treating beetle-killed trees near communities, and partnering to protect water resources, the Forest Service is working to efficiently fund projects to treat as many priority forested acres as possible.”

Through the passage of legislation in recent years, the Colorado General Assembly has supported forest management actions that demonstrate community-based approaches to forest restoration and watershed health. The Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program is a cost-share program that provides funding for up to 60 percent of the total cost for projects. To date, more than $4.7 million in state funds and another $1 million in leveraged federal funds have been awarded to 86 projects across the State.  Those funds additionally leveraged more than $8 million in matching funds to restore more than 12,000 acres of forest. In addition, the 17 projects currently in progress will result in treatments on another 1,200 acres.