Cross-boundary forestry project removes beetle-kill, reduces fire risk


The Colorado State Forest Service and Kremmling Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management have completed a project to remove beetle-killed trees and reduce wildfire risk, in what is the first cross-boundary project using the Good Neighbor Authority to the fullest extent in Grand County. This authority provides a mechanism through which the CSFS is able to work on both private and BLM or other federal lands, utilizing state oversight and contracting procedures to achieve landscape-scale impacts.

The Fraser River Canyon Good Neighbor Authority Project was completed this month, with the treatment of 30 acres of public and private forestland between Tabernash and the Winter Park Highlands Subdivision. Project objectives were to reduce the amount of heavy fuels available for wildfire in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), salvage lodgepole pine killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic and facilitate healthy forest regeneration.
Matt Schiltz, a forester with the CSFS Granby Field Office, says that harvesting timber to remove beetle-killed trees for beneficial use leads to creating healthier forest stands that are more defensible from catastrophic wildfire events, while improving forest health for watershed protection. With many Good Neighbor Authority projects, these effects occur across multi-jurisdictional boundaries.

The CSFS contracted Hahn’s Peak Enterprises, Inc., to perform the salvage and fuels treatments on both private and BLM properties. Hahn’s Peak utilized traditional logging equipment to harvest and process all mature, merchantable timber and piled the resulting slash for later burning during the winter months. The merchantable timber will be used for firewood and/or fencing material, benefitting the local forest products industry.
These cross-boundary fuels reduction treatments will benefit not just the BLM, but also private landowners and several nearby communities, such as the Winter Park Highlands. Fuels reduction treatments serve to reduce potential wildfire intensity, allowing firefighters to more safely and effectively take action in the event of a wildfire and protect property and lives.

The CSFS and BLM intend to pursue similar Good Neighbor Authority projects in the near future.