Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative
Monthly Update | December 2021
SUMMARY
The RMRI Leadership Team meeting originally slotted for Jan. 26 will be rescheduled. Matt McCombs is the incoming Colorado State Forester replacing Mike Lester. RMRI Partner National Fish and Wildlife Foundation received a $30 million award. Water Education Colorado highlights RMRI in its Headwaters Magazine. Restoration work at increased pace and scale is ongoing across RMRI landscapes and we have an overview of federal legislation introduced in Congress that could have an impact on RMRI landscapes.
PARTNERS & LANDSCAPES
RMRI Partners increase the pace and scale of restoration work on these three large landscapes across Colorado: RMRI-Southwest, RMRI-Upper Arkansas and RMRI-Upper South Platte. This is their work.
__________________
 
RMRI reschedules Leadership Team meeting RMRI
The RMRI Leadership Team meeting will be rescheduled due to an increasing number of scheduling conflicts. The meeting had originally been scheduled for Jan. 26. RMRI Partners can expect to receive an email with the new date after the holidays. As a reminder, participation in Leadership Team meetings is limited to Leadership Team members. Past Leadership Team meeting minutes and meeting summaries are available at https://restoringtherockies.org/meeting-summaries.
 
__________________


New forest patrol crew completes first season RMRI-Upper Arkansas
The U.S. Forest Service-managed Chaffee Recreation Rangers focused on preventing resource damage and cleaning up at Chaffee County’s most popular dispersed camping areas this year. The Salida Ranger District manages the new Chaffee Rec Rangers’ work on all public lands in Chaffee County. The program was developed under the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan to help address the impacts of dispersed camping. This year the four-person crew installed nearly 3,500 feet of buck-and-rail fence, maintained or installed more than 270 signs and dismantled 125 campfire rings between April and October. More…
 
__________________


Matt McCombs named New Colorado State Forester RMRI
RMRI welcomes Matt McCombs, the incoming Colorado State Forester. McCombs takes the lead of Colorado State Forest Service following his time as the U.S. Forest Service District Ranger for the 1.3-million-acre Gunnison Ranger District, part of the U.S. Forest Service-Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison National Forests. McCombs takes on his new role in January. We're looking forward to continuing to enhance Colorado's forests for current and future generations with his leadership and perspectives on forest management. More…
 
__________________


DWRF hosts tour highlighting treated v. untreated areas RMRI-SW
The Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest Collaborative hosted a tour Nov. 4 of treated and untreated areas within the Lone Pine environmental assessment (EA) at the Dolores Ranger District, San Juan National Forest. This area is in the northwest portion of the San Juan National Forest and was a substantial discussion point for the collaborative over the past few years. The event attracted partners from both DWRF and RMRI interested in viewing the outcomes of recent treatments, learn more about how prescriptions are implemented through a few different treatment approaches, and examine and discuss how treatments are achieving collaboratively articulated desired conditions. 
 
__________________


Recognition for collaborative stewardship in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness RMRI-Upper Arkansas
A guide on local rivers, mountains and Colorado’s Wilderness Areas for 43 years, Chuck Cichowitz was presented the National Wilderness Partnership Award by Forest Service Chief Randy Moore in an online awards ceremony in November. Cichowitz helps coordinate a stewardship project called Healthy Horn Fork that identifies and remediates campsites and social trails that threaten resources while encouraging recreation use where it can be responsibly accommodated. More…
 
__________________


Salida-area wildfire fuel break on track RMRI-Upper Arkansas
Private property treatments for the Methodist Front forest project are slated for springtime completion, said J.T. Shaver, a forester with the Colorado State Forest Service. Methodist Front forest treatments create a community fuel break to the south of Salida and Poncha Springs. Dozens of landowners in the foothills of Methodist Mountain have agreed to forest treatments that are necessary to create the community fuel break. More…
 
__________________


RMRI hosts Partnership meeting RMRI
RMRI hosted a virtual meeting Dec. 1 open to all its Partners to address Partner and Subcommittee updates. Special guests Mark Finney of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) presented research on the relationship between fuels management and fire behavior, while Sarah McCaffrey of RMRS presented research on social license and forest management. An official meeting summary—with details on both RMRS presentations—will be released on the RMRI website in the coming weeks.
 
__________________


When it comes to wildfire mitigation, there’s strength in numbers in the Southwest RMRI-SW
The city of Durango, La Plata County and the Durango Fire Protection District have developed an intergovernmental agreement, creating the Wildfire and Watershed Protection Fund (WWPF). Having these three entities coming together as the WWPF will increase the effectiveness of all wildfire mitigation efforts. The focus of the WWPF is primarily lands in the wildland urban interface (WUI) and the Florida watershed. The county will hire a Wildfire and Watershed Protection Fund coordinator and grants specialist to help guide the WWPF. Stay tuned for the job announcement.
 
__________________


New camping management begins to take shape RMRI-Upper Arkansas
Tunnel View dispersed camping area near Buena Vista was becoming overused. So the Bureau of Land Management and Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) created 18 designated campsites at Tunnel View with a site numbering system and metal fire rings. Buck-and rail fencing was installed to contain campsites, roads and parking areas. The result: Tunnel View is now a model for new management approaches at additional nearby dispersed camping areas. Providing quality camping opportunities like this is a top objective outlined in the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan. AHRA, BLM and the U.S. Forest Service are working together with the Chaffee Rec Council to consider community-supported camping solutions such as those put in place at Tunnel View. More…
 
__________________


Bezos Earth Fund awards $30 Million to NFWF RMRI
The Bezos Earth Fund today announced a $30 million award to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to support conservation projects in the U.S. that will generate immediate, overlapping benefits across three urgent areas of concern: advancing carbon goals to mitigate climate change, conserving wildlife biodiversity, and boosting the resilience of communities across the nation. More…
 
__________________


San Juan NF aims to inform RMRI-SW
The San Juan National Forest released its inaugural issue of its ‘Partnerships Peaks’ newsletter, which is published from a forest perspective with focus on projects, partners and people. The first issue features an article on RMRI. More...
 
__________________


Rec ‘Adopters’ collect thousands of campsite surveys RMRI-Upper Arkansas
Volunteers with Chaffee Recreation Adopters—known as the “Rec Adopters”—helped collect more than 2,200 campsite surveys this summer using a new mobile app created for stewardship work in Chaffee County. They found 3,800 gallons of trash, 550 piles of human waste, 7,000 damaged trees and nearly 200 acres of denuded ground caused by driving and camping in the forest. The surveys will guide camping management strategies currently under consideration at the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA)—a state park charged with managing federal lands within its boundary along 150 miles of the Arkansas River. More… 
 
__________________


Dolores Ranger District releases Final Decision Notice for Salter Vegetation Management Project RMRI-SW
The Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest has released the Salter Vegetation Management Project Final Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact, clearing an additional 22,346 acres of San Juan NF lands for restoration and management activities. The Salter Vegetation Management Project is located on the Dolores Ranger District in the vicinity of Salter Y, Plateau Creek, Carlyle Point, Turkey Knoll, and Boggy Draw. More…
IN THE NEWS
How do we live with megafire?
How do we live with megafire? Take the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative (RMRI), a partnership co-convened by the USFS and the National Wild Turkey Federation that has brought together federal, state, local, private and nonprofit partners across Colorado for three targeted restoration projects. Tara Umphries, shared stewardship and RMRI project manager for USFS, says that leads to projects that focus on “consecutiveness,” crossing both physical boundaries and different partners’ priorities. “Everyone brings their own expertise and their perspective to the table and has their own ideas on how to get this landscape work done,” Umphries says. More…
SUBCOMMITTEE UPDATES
Biomass Utilization Subcommittee

The subcommittee published its RMRI Biomass Fact Sheet to provide a common lexicon among RMRI partners, highlight opportunities and pinpoint challenges. The Biomass Subcommittee also recently briefed on the U.S. Forest Service’s two current requests for the Wood Innovations Program and their Community Wood Program. The deadline for each is January 19, 2022, and the subcommittee provided a comparison chart. The grants are designed to develop and expand the use of wood products and strengthen emerging wood energy markets that support sustainable forest management – particularly in areas of high wildfire risk. Additionally, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) can help applicants with match this year.
 
The Colorado State Forest Service established the Wildfire Risk Mitigation Loan Fund because lenders in Colorado were very risk-averse when loaning money to small businesses in the forestry sector. Many businesses are eligible for the loan, including timber harvesting businesses, sawmills, furniture makers and hazardous fuels contractors. CSFS will make loans to both existing businesses and startups. To date, CSFS has loaned $1.5 million to businesses, leveraging $2.25 million of external funds. Three loans have all been paid off. Notes…

 __________________


Social License & Communications Subcommittees

The Social License and the Communications Subcommittees hosted a joint meeting with Nick Smith, who launched Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities—a nonprofit established in 2013 in Oregon to elevate the conversation on forest health and management. Today, the grassroots network has over 300,000 people supporting active forest management on federal lands and 250,000 Facebook followers. Nick spoke on how to reach people, social media strategy and understanding the audience. RMRI Partners also spent time providing updates on Montrose Forest Products, Club 20, and the Pike-San Isabel National Forests (PSICC). Notes…
EVENTS
RESCHEDULED: RMRI leadership Team Virtual Meeting
RMRI members and those interested in the work of RMRI Partners are invited to attend the next RMRI Leadership Team meeting. The meeting had originally been scheduled for Jan. 26. RMRI Partners can expect to receive an email with the new date after the holidays. If you would like to join, and have not yet received an email invite, email RestoreTheRockies@gmail.com.
 
 __________________


Jan. 26-28: Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention
Attendees will convene for collaboration on the important water issues of the day. It will be loaded with great topical content presented by the foremost leaders and technical experts in water, government, law, education and science fields. More…
 
 __________________


Feb. 7: RMRI Social License Subcommittee Meeting
RMRI invites you to the next RMRI Social License Meeting via Zoom Feb. 7, from 1-3 p.m. Request to join the meeting at restoretherockies@gmail.com. Past meeting summaries at https://restoringtherockies.org/social-license-subcommittee.

 __________________


March 7-10: Cross-Boundary Landscape Restoration Workshop
All-lands forest and fire management in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and surrounding states hosted at Colorado State University. More…
LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS
This is a current list of pending federal legislation, courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation, that could have an impact on RMRI landscapes if signed into law.
 
The bill would codify the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to conduct certain landscape-scale forest restoration projects.
 

This bill, introduced by Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse, would raise federal wildland firefighter pay, ensure essential benefits and address classification.


 Watershed Results Act (Introduced)
This bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the heads
of relevant Federal agencies, to carry out watershed pilots.
 

This bill would improve revegetation and carbon sequestration activities in the
U.S.
 

This bill would establish a pilot program under which the Chief of the Forest Service may use alternative dispute resolution in lieu of judicial review for certain projects.
 

FIRESHEDS Act (Introduced)
This bill would amend the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to establish emergency fireshed management areas.
 

This bill, introduced by Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, would establish forest management, forest conservation, and wildfire prevention programs and activities. The bill establishes:
 
  • a collaborative prescribed fire program,
  • an incentive program for large, cross-boundary prescribed fires,
  • a program to remove or treat bark beetle-killed or infested trees,
  • the Restoration and Resilience Partnership Program, and
  • Forest Reserve Revenue Areas to generate revenue for counties.
 

This bill would direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to encourage and expand the use of prescribed fire on land managed by the Department of the Interior or the USDA Forest Service, with an emphasis on units of the National Forest System in the western United States.
 

This bill, introduced by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, establishes the Outdoor Restoration Fund for restoration and resilience projects.

 
 Trillion Trees Act (Introduced)
This bill would establish a variety of requirements and incentives to plant trees and conduct other land management practices for the purposes of capturing and storing carbon in domestic and international trees and forests. Additionally, the bill provides incentives to research or develop other carbon sequestration tools. Specifically, the bill directs the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to set targets to increase forest carbon stock through January 1, 2100, for the purposes of sequestering and storing carbon in U.S. forests.

 
REPLANT Act (Introduced)
The Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act would quadruple investments to support reforestation projects on national forests by removing the current funding cap of $30 million per year on the Reforestation Trust Fund. 
SUBMISSIONS, QUESTIONS & FEEDBACK
If you would like your work highlighted in this monthly email update, submit to RMRI communication manager, Nathan Van Schaik, at nathaniel.vanschaik@usda.gov. Or, to discuss any communications issues or concerns, contact Nathan via email or at (720) 584-6571.
Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative
#RestoreTheRockies