Joe Duda, Forest Management Supervisor - February 11, 2010

Joe Duda, Forest Management Supervisor with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), spoke about initiatives and projects the agency is pursuing during 2010.

·         The Federal Farm Bill, which includes funds for forest restoration projects in Colorado , has three focus areas: 1. to conserve working forest landscapes, 2. to protect forests from harm and 3. to enhance public benefit from trees and forests.
·         CSFS is working with The Nature Conservancy to develop data for a strategic forest lands assessment. Results should be available by early summer.
·         CSFS will be hosting six regional focus group meetings by mid June to demonstrate to the US Forest Service a continued need for forest health funding.
·         State government grant program status report (identified by enabling legislation): HB 1130 funding complete; SB 71 funding 50% complete; HB 1199 funding currently available at no more than 60% state match.
·         A onetime hazardous fuels reduction kitty of eight million dollars is available for citizen forest health monitoring, with preference given to group applications.  
·         CSFS (Dave Theobald) is working on a biomass availability map for Colorado to inform discussion on biofuels potential regardless of cost to harvest and transport. Will identify administratively withdrawn areas as well as steep slopes.

A discussion about beetle kill wood utilization generated the following observations:

·         Federal funds for the USFS Forest Products Laboratory in Madison WI have been decreased.
·         With 68% of forest lands nationally and an even higher percentage in Colorado under public ownership, guaranteeing a reasonable and assurable long term supply remains a difficult challenge.
·         Timber harvest on public lands amount to 7% of net annual growth, falling from 62 billion board feet in 2005 to 31 bbf in 2009.
·        Burdensome paperwork requirements for obtaining state sales tax exemptions for beetle kill timber products have hindered demand for Colorado sourced wood.

Cary Green provided an update on the Breckenridge Forest Health & Fuels Reduction project

·         Project area covers 5600 acres with a 5 to 10 year time horizon for completion.
·         Eighty people who attended a project meeting Feb. 10th in Breckenridge participated in a conversation about modified management prescriptions based on public input.
·         Modified proposed action includes adaptive management treatments.  A 60% insect infested-mortality threshold is prescribed in the adaptive management units.  No treatment would occur if less than 60% of area is insect/infested and dead.  Once the 60% threshold is met, then clearcut with leave tree treatment would be prescribed.  In all treatments, objective is to maintain and protect established fir, spruce and aspen species.
·         Expected water yield from beetle kill forest watershed to increase for the modified proposed action and the no action alternative.

Other meeting comments

·         Aside from the requirement for certified tree fellers, volunteer fuels reduction and watershed protection activity, including tree removal, on public lands is permissible under FS supervision.

·         Reforestation assistance for landowners with more than two forested acres is available.
·         Chip depth on treated forest lands should not exceed 2-3 inches; less if tree regeneration is a priority
·        Following a discussion on the best management practices for selecting tree service companies, the draft document was deemed acceptable for inclusion in the 2010 Guide to Forest Health with several additions. The guide will be available to the public in early May.

The next Forest Health Roundtable will take place from 7:30 to 9:00 am, Thursday morning, March 11, at the Frisco Community Center .

Featured participants include Amanda Bucknam and Dr. Jessica Clement (Colorado Forest Restoration Institute) and Lyle Laverty (The Laverty Group/National Association of Gateway Communities).