Roundtable with featured presenter: John Bennett of For the Forest

For The Forest, a Basalt-Colorado-based non-profit, exists to promote forest health and sustainability throughout the Western United States. It was organized 18 months ago by homeowners in the Roaring Fork Valley concerned with impacts from the mountain pine beetle infestation and other factors contributing to declining local forest health.
 
The organization has engaged in a number of strategic initiatives, including:

  • A partnership with the Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association, with the goal of preserving 20 acres of lodgepole pine forest around each hut through thinning, brood tree removal and a pheromone flake broadcast protocol
  • An experiment to mitigate beetle attacks on a 130 acre portion of Aspen’s Smuggler Mountain that has demonstrated measurable success
  • A best practices symposium in December that featured forest health experts from Canada, representatives from area groups that are seeking various uses for dead and dying trees as well as policy addresses by Governor Bill Ritter and Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Rick Cables

Public education is For the Forest’s primary mission, with aims of providing information specific to what’s happening to local forests along with management alternatives and providing a broader perspective that describes the impact of declining forest health on global climate change. Bennett made reference to the following articles that point to bigger and more abrupt changes to our high elevation forests:

Pine beetle outbreaks turn forests into carbon source | Oregon Environmental News - – OregonLive.com
Death rate of West's old forests doubled - Climate Change- msnbc.com
 
He also observed that prior to colonial settlement, the Utes' autumnal burning of vacated settlements helped to maintain a more natural balance of the ecosystem. Today, with no burns to rely on, the forest is not regenerated as easily as in days past; lengthened seasons due to climate change also contribute to a decreased natural regeneration.

Further discussion touched upon:

  • An adaptive management plan for 400 acres of USFS land on Breckenridge’s Peak 7, where lodgepole is experiencing greater than 40% mortality
  • The need expressed by FDRD’s Scott Fussell for a liability waiver policy allowing trained volunteers to assist in the removal of hazard and brood trees adjacent to hiking trails and water bodies
  • Rates for 20 person experienced logging/slash removal crews, which typically range from $1600/day (CO Correctional Industries) to $2200+/day (USFS Hotshots)
  • Growing concerns about fir and aspen decline, now in evidence around the Roaring Fork Valley
  • Opportunities for local tree service companies to participate in the implementation phase of the 4,012 acre Lower Blue EA north of Silverthorne this summer

A report by USFS Eastern Zone TMA Cary Green on the status of 15 timber sale projects on the White River National Forest, primarily in Summit County 

Click here for information about For The Forest; To reach John Bennett, call 970-927-4247 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  him. 

The next Forest Health Task Force Roundtable will take place from 7:30 to 9:00 am, Thursday, February 11th in the Frisco Community Center.