Forest health requires sustained community committment

Beetle-killed lodgepole pines gleam red in a winter sunrise on Mt. Royal. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Summit Voice, Summit County Wildfire Council partner for public education

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Forest health is one of the most critical long-term issues for Summit County. The things we do — or don’t do — today will affect the landscape and the environment for decades to come.

We don’t have control over everything that happens in the forests around us. Thousands of acres of backcountry, far from neighborhoods, roads and reservoirs, will remain mostly untouched. But for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we do have a responsibility to be informed and responsible stewards of the lands that are under our control. Specifically, that means the edges of the vast White River National Forest, where private lands, Forest Service tracts, county open space lands and areas under permit to local ski resorts all meet.

Our first responsibility is to reduce the risk of serious fires that could threaten lives and property. We can’t eliminate the risk of fire completely, but by continuing the targeted efforts already under way, we can decrease the chances of an uncontrolled fire racing through residential areas. Our second task is to look toward the future and try to restore areas that have been killed by pine beetles. Since we’re disrupting the natural ecology of the lodgepole forest by suppressing fires, we’ll need to figure other ways to restore a healthy forest balance. Once the task of mitigating the most immediate fire danger is mostly done, we need to focus the same energy on reforestation.

Please click the ‘read more’ link to get the full story, as well as links to local resources and forest-related news stories from Summit Voice and other sources …

A well-informed citizenry is a key component of making progress in all these areas. Just like it requires a long-term, committed effort to address forest health needs on the ground, constant education and public involvement is needed to make the best possible decisions. With support from, and in partnership with the Summit County Wildfire Council, Summit Voice will try to contribute to that effort and dialogue by providing the best possible information about forest health.

Stay tuned to the Summit Voice forest health blog for updates on fire mitigation efforts and restoration projects, and for information about how you can stay involved with the critical mission of forest stewardship. We’ll provide links to original news stories, websites with information about forest health and fire mitigation and links to news stories from other sources on these topics.

Consider becoming a Summit Voice subscriber by clicking on the subscription link in the right-hand sidebar. As a subscriber, you have a choice of having stories e-mailed to you directly as soon as they’re published, or receiving a daily or weekly summary of stories.

If you’re on Facebook, consider joining the Summit Voice Facebook page, where we also post updates from new stories. And if you’d like to get the most immediate notification, follow Summit Voice on Twitter, where we sometimes send out live updates from meetings and events, as well as photo extras.

Summit County Government Wildfire Mitigation – Maps, contacts, safety resources, education and burn permits.

Colorado State Forest Service

U.S. Forest Service forest health website

Summit County Forest Health Task Force – educational meetings and forum on forest health, volunteer opportunities and other forest-related issues

National Interagency Fire Center

Recent Summit Voice forest stories

Beetle-kill conundrum: Plenty of wood, but too pricey

Does beetle-kill increase runoff?

Humans part of fire ecology in Australia

Aerial cable-haul logging eyed for steep slopes in Summit

Summit County: Beetle battle takes to the slopes

Video: Slash burning at Red Tail Ranch

New research helps track forest role in carbon cycle

Forest bill could boost biofuel efforts in Colorado

Prescribed fire as global warming tool?

Colorado beetle-kill wood headed for Haiti

Report: Backcountry thinning won’t stop bark beetles

Will the beetle battle hurt other Forest Service programs?

Fighting fire with fire

Commentary: New report says more fire needed in West

Forest Service approves North Summit forest project

Beetles infested another half-million acres in 2009

Environment: Pine beetle “Battle of the Bulge?”

Youth coalition to present pine beetle recommendations

USFS emphasizes collaboration on Breck logging plan

State Forest Service: No magic bullet for pine beetles

Coverage of forest health issues is supported by the Summit County Wildfire Council.


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