Sunday, March 29, 2015

Forest treatments recommended: Upper Monument Creek restoration initiative builds on Roundtable suggestions

The Upper Monument Creek (UMC) landscape, which has experienced increasingly severe and costly impacts from wildfire, including the record-setting 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire that burned across the landscape’s southern boundary, will be treated over the next seven to 10 years using a combination of mechanical, manual and prescribed fire methods on approximately 18,000 acres.
The UMC Landscape Restoration Initiative was launched in 2012 to accelerate the pace of urgently needed forest restoration and build on the work of the Front Range Roundtable. That group has been working since 2004 to dramatically reduce wildfire risks to communities and restore resilient ecological conditions in Front Range forests. The Collaborative Report associated with the initiative recommends the following specific strategies and forest officials say they are proceeding accordingly.

Things to know about forest treatments:

1. The greatest benefit will be accrued through a combination of mechanical thinning, manual hand thinning and prescribed fire. Each tool produces benefits, but a combined treatment approach is most effective.

2. Over the next ten years, these treatments will consist of approximately 6,000 acres in mechanical thinning, 6,000 acres in manual hand thinning, 3,000 acres of site preparation and 3,000 acres of prescribed fire.

3. The majority of treatments will be focused in the landscape’s three primary forest systems: ponderosa pine, dry mixed-conifer, and mesic mixed-conifer.

4. Treatments emphasize the creation of more open canopy conditions, and on retaining and fostering the underrepresented older age trees.

5. The ponderosa pine-Douglas fir system should receive the most thinning treatment, followed by the dry mixed-conifer system with recommended thinning treatment at approximately 5,900 and 4,300 acres respectively. Acres requiring prescribed fire are distributed across the three major forest systems.

6. Treatment is also expected in the smaller lodgepole pine and Gambel oak systems, primarily for the purposes of wildfire risk reduction and/or preparation for prescribed fire in adjacent ponderosa pine-Douglas fir, or dry mixed conifer systems.

7. Total cost of treatment for the proposed management scenario will be approximately $10 million over the next ten years.

The Upper Monument Creek Landscape Restoration Initiative Collaborative Participants:

• Rob Addington, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
• Greg Aplet, The Wilderness Society
• Mike Babler, The Nature Conservancy
• Mike Battaglia, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
• Ed Biery, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Peter Brown, Rocky Mountain Tree Ring Research
• Jonathan Bruno, Coalition for the Upper South Platte
• Tony Cheng, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
• Casey Cooley, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
• Yvette Dickinson, Colorado State University
• Missy Davis, The Nature Conservancy
• John Dow, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Carol Ekarius, Coalition for the Upper South Platte
• Jonas Feinstein, Natural Resources Conservation Service
• Allan Hahn, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District
• Eric Howell, Colorado Springs Utilities
• Chad Julian, Boulder County
• Jan Koenig, The Nature Conservancy
• Paige Lewis, The Nature Conservancy
• Larry Long, Colorado State Forest Service
• Sara Mayben, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Pam Motley, West Range Reclamation, LLC
• Aaron Ortega, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Felix Quesada, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District
• Steve Sanchez, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Andy Schlosberg, Colorado State Forest Service
• Diane Strohm, U.S. Air Force Academy
• Jeff Underhill, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Eric Zanotto, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District

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