Restoring the health of our forested landscapes benefits everyone, but a large portion of the burden of this monumental task lies upon those who own private lands. Even though many restoration projects already occur on federal land, approximately 75% of forested acreage is privately owned, requiring additional effort and focus on private lands to achieve broad-scale effects.
The Many Benefits of our Work
Everyone has their own reasons for restoring the health of their forested land and their own emotional attachments to the land that they love. This is what makes our job so important and so rewarding. Every forestry project the District takes on is unique and each comes with individual opportunities and challenges. We are fortunate to work with many different landowners, each of whom have specific needs for their land and uses that must be addressed. Some are looking to increase forage for livestock, others wish improve wildlife habitat or harvest wood products, many want to preserve their land for their children and grandchildren, and everyone seeks to decrease the ever-present threat of severe wildfire. The benefits of our work are many.
Improving the Local Economy
Hiring local logging companies to complete forest restoration projects contributes to the local economy. Recent BTCD projects have allowed for the creation and growth of two new logging contractors in the Estes Park area. By keeping work close to home these contractors have been able to keep operating costs low, forest products local, and trust from the communities strong.
Wood products from our forests also represent an economic opportunity as they are sold back into the community. Our work on the Husted Ranch is reducing wildfire risk, improving wildlife habitat and providing valuable wood products for the landowners.
Enhancing Wildlife Habitat
After the removal of dense stands of lodgepole and spruce the managers of MacGregor ranch have enjoyed much improved conditions for livestock grazing. Wildlife has also reaped the benefits of the improved habitat found in the open canopy of the restored ponderosa pine forest, including elk from neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park and the threatened Mexican Spotted owl.
Reducing Wildfire Risk
Forest openings created through tree removal is creating a much safer environment for staff and visitors at Cheley Camps and neighboring properties. Reducing forest densities not only minimizes wildfire risk but we are seeing greatly increased wildflower and grass species diversity along with aspen recovery in these areas. Creating defensible spaces around homes protects both residents and wildland firefighters
Through our projects in the greater Estes Park area Big Thompson Conservation District forestry experts are creating and connecting a healthier and more resilient patchwork of privately owned forested land and building invaluable relationships along the way. Our collaborative partnerships with private landowners are critical to the health of our forests and the prosperity of Northern Colorado.
Sandi Good is a Colorado State University graduate with a degree in Natural Resources Management and Conservation Biology. She is the Program Manager for Peaks to People Water Fund. Sandi has worked as a researcher for the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, Colorado State University and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. She has lived in Fort Collins for 30 years. A long time environmental advocate, Sandi founded the first student section of the Sierra Club in Colorado in 1995. When not working to protect wild places, she volunteers for Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue. She most enjoys spending time in the great outdoors camping and boating with her family and 3 rescue dogs, traveling, cooking and gardening.