Results released today from the U.S. Forest Service reveal impressive job, water, and wildlife results from two collaborative forest thinning projects in Colorado – one on the Front Range and the other on the West Slope’s Uncompahgre Plateau. These forest restoration projects are two of the 10 original sites that received investment from the federal Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program (CFLR). The 2011 results released today reflect achievements from the second year of program funding and clearly demonstrate the value of pro-active investment vs. continuing to incur the extraordinary damage and costs that result from wildfires such as High Park and Waldo Canyon.
The Front Range and Uncompahgre Plateau’s combined accomplishments in 2011 were:
“We are proud of these projects,” said Tim Sullivan, the Nature Conservancy of Colorado’s state director. “It’s one of those rare win-win-win efforts, with a broad coalition of partners pulling together to accomplish real benefits for people, forests, water, and wildlife.”
Colorado’s CFLR projects are also beneficial to the state’s forest industry. The promise of long term funding and management helps local businesses secure the financing they need to invest in people and products. Crawford-based West Range Reclamation, the primary contractor for the projects, is creating jobs and producing a variety of wood products.
“By utilizing forest products, we can offset treatment costs and create economic growth – meeting environmental, economic and social goals simultaneously,” stated Cody Neff, West Range Reclamation’s owner.
Project activities include thinning, controlled burns, plantings, and other restoration work to help return the forest to a more healthy and resilient condition. Ten years of funding is guaranteed if appropriated.
“A century of fire suppression has taken its toll on the water, wildlife, and recreation benefits these forests provide us,” added Sullivan. “More than nine million acres of Colorado’s forested watersheds are directly linked to municipal water supply. It’s imperative we improve the health of our forests. These projects are part of the solution.”
“The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is bringing communities from around the country together to create jobs, restore forest and watershed health, and reduce the costs of wildfire suppression,” offered Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. “The program and its many supporters are charting a successful path forward for National Forest management.”
The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLR) was created by Congress in 2009 to foster collaborative, science-based restoration in National Forests around the country.
CFLR is also a political success with bipartisan support in Washington— for the second year running the House Appropriations Committee has proposed maintaining funding CFLR at the $40 million level in FY2013. This funding will support the 23 landscape projects started in 2010 and 2012.
The combined 2011 results of the 10 original CFLR landscapes were:
This work was achieved with an investment of $40 million. By comparison, the single 87,284 acre High Park megafire outside Fort Collins this year killed one person, destroyed 257 homes, and cost more than $38 million to contain. Insured losses from the fire are estimated at $55 million. Additional costs related to post-fire rehabilitation and flooding and erosion controls measures are yet to be determined. Meanwhile 2.5 million acres have burned elsewhere in the country.
Information on CFLRP can be found at the U.S. Forest Service’s website: http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLR/
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in Colorado