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Mitigation Crew Revitalizes Unhealthy Forest

Andrew Slack's picture
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This project was completed during the summer of 2013 on a private property on Lee Hill road.

before/after

Both pictures show a significant reduction in both ladder fuels and canopy cover, turning a dense and unhealthy forest into an open park-like Ponderosa/Douglas-fir woodland. The project targeted diseased and damaged trees first, and then removed additional trees to create separation between surface and canopy fuels and canopy itself. The dog-hair stand (a vastly overstocked forest) before the project was the result of humans moving into the wildland-urban interface and actively suppressing fires that had once been frequent (about every 30 years) in the foothills of Boulder county. Without fire the forest became more susceptible to not only hazardous and unnatural wildfires that destroy homes and devastate ecosystems, but also other disease and infestation. With reduced competition the remaining trees stand a better chance of fighting off disease, bark beetles, mistletoe, and drought. Most importantly the forest ecosystem could survive future wildfires preserving forest health and the home owner’s property value.

before/after

The home owners who commissioned this project have had a broadminded approach to mitigation and have mitigated about five acres of their land. In the event of a fire firefighters have a stronger chance of being able to save the house and also the land because of a lower possibility of extreme fire behavior. In addition to a reduction in fire risk the home owners have expressed other advantages such as attractive aesthetic quality and a friendly area for recreation such as hiking and cross country skiing. These five acres have been transformed from a dangerous, ailing and inaccessible forest to an open, safer and picturesque forest.