Forest health and water supplies are closely linked

Meadow Creek at peak runoff, June 2010. Some research suggests that runoff from beetle-killed forests will increase in the short-term.

March 10 Forest Health Task Force meeting to focus on the critical connections between forest management and water supplies

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The dramatic changes in the local forest landscapes have implications far beyond visual impacts. The death of nearly all the mature lodgepole stands in the area could very well alter the way the winter snowpack builds up, and subsequently, how it melts off in the spring.

Ranchers in the Lower Blue have already reported anecdotally on some of the changes they’ve seen in the past few years, and Forest Service researchers at the Fraser Experimental Forest also have a full slate of studies under way to determine how those changes will play out. Click here to read more about some of these potential changes.

The upcoming March 10 meeting of the Summit Forest Health Task Force will focus on the critical connection between forest health and water supplies. According to task force organizer Sandy Briggs, the goals of the roundtable are to increase awareness about the importance of forest vitality on local water supply and quality, to encourage discussion on what forest management practices would best achieve water supply and quality objectives, and to promote collaboration and understanding among stakeholders.

The luncheon meeting (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Frisco Community Center) is free and open to the public. To help the task force plan the lunch, RSVP to Howard Hallman at or call (970) 468-9134 or (719) 491-1807.

Invited speakers include Blue River water commissioner Scott Hummer, Cary Green with the U.S. Forest Service, Don Kennedy of Denver Water, Jeff Crane of the Colorado Watershed Assembly, Tom Clark, president of the Colorado Bark Beetle Collaborative, Steve Swanson, representing the Blue River Watershed Group, as well as John Duggan from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. We also expect to hear from representatives from the Colorado State Forest Service and Xcel Energy.

According to task force president Howard Hallman, the Thursday gathering is designed to promote a greater appreciation for the challenges facing mountain communities as the dominant feature on our landscape responds to the aftermath of a devastating bark beetle epidemic, reacts to climate change in ways we are just beginning to understand, and faces an increasing risk of further destruction in the form of catastrophic wildfire.

The Frisco Community Center is located one block south of Frisco’s Main Street at the corner of Third Avenue and Granite Street.


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