CSU, State Agencies and Organizations Create One Voice for Colorado Forest Health

As Coloradans and visitors head to Colorado’s high country for summer time activities, agencies and organizations from around the state are working together to ensure that Colorado’s forests remain healthy.

Members of Colorado State University’s Colorado Forest Restoration Institute will address the Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Council on June 19 in Grand Junction with key findings and recommendations made by state agencies and organizations at a forest health conference held earlier this spring.

Community leaders, foresters, local officials and members of the Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Council convened for the first time as a large group to build partnerships and develop collaborative strategies for addressing Colorado’s forest health issues at Colorado State University’s Colorado Forest Restoration Institute conference in April.  

"The conference brought together participants from agencies and organizations across the state that share a common interest in forest health issues, and we were able to share experiences and lessons learned," said Tony Cheng, director of CSU’s Colorado Forest Restoration Institute. "We were able to create a common voice and identify shared needs and priorities."  

An immediate outcome of the conference was a letter of support drafted and sent by a group of attendees urging Gov. Bill Ritter to use federal economic stimulus funds to assist forest products companies and to support changes in federal timber sale contracting rules.  

A common theme of the conference was the need to coordinate a common voice for issues and needs. A statewide forest resource strategy is being developed by the Colorado State Forest Service and will provide a focal point for collaboration. The Colorado Forest Restoration Institute will work in partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service to implement a series of regional discussions to build statewide strategies for addressing issues of concern.  

"Since the early 1990s, there has been an explosion of initiatives in Colorado involving diverse community, interest group and agency stakeholders to address wildfire risk and forest health conditions for specific geographic landscapes and communities. These vary from neighborhood community wildfire protection plan efforts to regional collaborative partnerships, such as the Public Lands Partnership, the Uncompahgre Plateau Project, the Colorado Bark Beetle Cooperative and the Front Range Roundtable," said Cheng.  "These venues are where ecological science, economic considerations and social values intersect and where participants can forge zones of agreements for priorities, project design, implementation and monitoring. Federal and state agencies share leadership roles with local governments, non-governmental organizations and community residents.

"We now have a good framework for a common voice among the many participants."

The Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Council grew from a March 2007 conference hosted by the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute. Participants called for a state-level board that served as a coordinating body for the needs of forest health in Colorado.

The conference report and action items are available at http://www.cfri.colostate.edu/.

The Colorado Forest Restoration Institute was established at CSU in 2004 through the Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act. The institute compiles, translates and applies the most current scientific information relevant to the needs of forest managers and communities in taking action to mitigate wildfire risk and restore healthy forest conditions.