Active forest management needed to protect water supplies
By Mike Lester
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior to reduce the risk and impacts of catastrophic Western wildfires was signed last week in Fort Collins. The Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership was good news for anyone who cares about the health of our forests, pays a water bill or worries about wildfires.
New state program aims to reduce the risk of fire in wildland-urban interface
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — State officials say they’re ready to start taking applications for a new $9.8 million grant program aimed at reducing wildfire risks to neighborhoods built in and near flammable forests, where wildfire is a natural part of the ecosystem.
The new program was created by Senate Bill 13-269 and passed this year by the Colorado General Assembly. It focuses on projects that reduce the risk for damage to property, infrastructure, and water supplies, and that limit the likelihood of wildfires spreading into populated areas. Funds will be directed to non-federal lands within Colorado.
Eligible applicants include community groups, local governments, utilities, state agencies and non-profit groups. Applicants must contribute 100 percent matching funds, which can include in-kind resources, for a 50-50 grant-to-match ratio. Applicants must also identify plans to make use of the woody material resulting from the projects. Those plans can include using the materials for biomass energy and/or traditional forest products. Continue reading “Colorado: Grants available for wildfire mitigation”→
Local company continue to offer spraying services, saying some property owners would rather be safe than sorry
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — While some local property owners report that they’re getting advertisements from local tree spraying companies about protecting lodgepole pines from mountain pine beetles, state officials say there’s no need to apply pesticides this year.
“Mountain pine beetle numbers are the lowest they’ve been in 30 years,” said Ron Cousineau, district state forester for the area covering Summit and Grand counties. “The mountain pine beetle population has crashed … spraying has to be based on an actual threat,” he said. “The current population of pine beetles does not warrant spraying.”
Essentially, the bugs have killed most of the available trees. With very few brood trees remaining, beetle populations aren’t likely to reach epidemic levels again anytime soon. The latest forest surveys showed pine beetle activity on only about 200 acres in Summit County last year, with only a few pockets of trees within those areas affected by the beetles. Continue reading “Colorado foresters say no need to spray for pine beetles”→
Mike Lester says Colorado forests face ‘extraordinary changes’
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s new state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service may be moving here from Pennsylvania, but his forestry roots are pure Colorado.
Mike Lester is a CSU alumnus and spent time with the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. He currently serves as assistant state forester for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, a position in which he is responsible for more than 300 staff, manages 2 million acres of state forest land, oversees the Pennsylvania State nursery manager, and manages a silviculture program that yields $25 million in annual revenues.
As Colorado state forester, Lester is responsible for the protection of Colorado’s forest resources; ensuring forestry education, outreach and technical assistance to private landowners; and carrying out the duties of the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Continue reading “Colorado gets new state forester”→
Gov. Hickenlooper proposes reshuffling agencies to unify command structure
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —Scrambling to beef up the state’s response capability at the start of what could be a long, hot fire season, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday he’ll ask the State Legislature to shake up the agencies charged with responding to public safety emergencies.