Colorado’s forests among the most complex in the West and provide much of the region’s water
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As part of the International Year of Forests celebration, May 21, has been declared National Walk in the Woods Day, so snow, or no snow, get out and enjoy a forest near you.
“The value of our forests cannot be underestimated. In addition to providing clean air, water and wildlife habitat, forests in Colorado provide some of the most spectacular beauty in the American west,” said Rick Cables, regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region. “I hope everyone can take some time this Saturday to see firsthand how we all are connected to our forests.”
“Colorado’s forests are recognized throughout the world for the scenic vistas and world-class recreational opportunities they provide,” said Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service. “Whether experiencing Colorado’s high-mountain, riparian or urban forests, I encourage Colorado residents and visitors alike to take a walk in the woods and celebrate all that our forests provide. I also encourage everyone to pause for a moment to consider what each of us can do to be good forest stewards.”
With a diverse mix of coniferous and deciduous species, Colorado’s 24.4 million acres of forested landscape are perhaps the most complex of any in the Intermountain West, and the state’s high-elevation forested watersheds are the source of most of Colorado’s water. These watersheds form the headwaters of four of America’s major rivers – the Arkansas, Colorado, Platte and Rio Grande. In addition to Colorado, these rivers provide water to 18 other states.
The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to bolster efforts to promote sustainable management, conservation and development of forests worldwide. The official campaign will be celebrated on national, regional and local levels.
Using the tagline “Celebrate Forests…Celebrate Life,” the celebration will increase awareness and understanding of the value of America’s forests. The connection of forests to health will be communicated through four major themes: clean air and water, ecosystem health, economic health and community and personal health.