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Individual Highlight

Building resilience in Colorado Front Range forests

Photo of Desired forest condition for ponderosa pine forests in the Colorado Front Range.

Desired forest condition for ponderosa pine forests in the Colorado Front Range. Snapshot : In the mid-1800s, Colorado’s Front Range forests were more open and two to three times less dense than they are today. Today, these forests have become far more dense and crowded with smaller trees which has inherently increased vulnerability to large wildfires, insect epidemics and disease. Approximately 1.5 million acres across the Front Range have been identified as needing restoration to mitigate wildfire hazard, protect communities, and restore forest structure and composition. To address this, a new guide has been produced to be used as a framework to implement place-based approaches to forest restoration. 

Principal Investigators(s) :
Battaglia, Mike A.  
Research Location : Colorado Front Range
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1435

Summary

A wide-ranging group of collaborators from federal agencies, environmental non-profits, and academia, joined together to address this issue and create this synthesis of information specific to restoring these forests.? By using historical forest conditions to help guide the "desired conditions" of these forests, GTR-373 helps managers to identify areas that could benefit from restoration. It also provides an overarching framework for how to implement place-based approaches to forest restoration based on information specific to the Front Range. A companion document is also available - Visualization of Heterogeneous Forest Structures Following Treatment in the Southern Rocky Mountains (RMRS-GTR-365) allows users to "see" what the recommended treatments may look like at the stand level. Restoration in Colorado Front Range ponderosa and dry mixed-conifer forests should result in reduction of forest densities and surface and crown fuels, enhancement of spatial heterogeneity across scales, and retention of drought-and fire-tolerant species, old trees, and structures important for wildlife. While restoration treatments are not expected to recreate the diversity of structure in the 1860s, the hope is that by pushing the stand structure of these forests back towards past conditions, they will be more resilient for the future. ?

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Kristen Pelz, Rocky Mountain Research Station
  •  Claudia Regan, Rocky Mountain Region
  •  Rick Truex, Rocky Mountain Region
  • Jonas Feinstein, Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Rob Addington, The Nature Conservancy
  • Tony Cheng, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University
  •  Benjamin Gannon, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University
  •  Brett Wolk, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University
  •  Chad Julian, Southern Rockies Fire Science Network at Colorado State University
  •  Greg Aplet, The Wilderness Society
  •  Jennifer S. Briggs, U.S. Geological Survey
  •  Jim Thinnes, Society of American Foresters
  •  Peter M. Brown, Rocky Mountain Tree Ring Research
  •  Yvette Dickinson, Michigan Technological University