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Monthly Update

July 2022


RMRI is planning the first in-person RMRI Partners Meeting in years Oct. 4-6 in Durango. The next issue of RMRI’s The Source is now available. DNR’s COSWAP funding is directed at all three RMRI landscapes. The state of Colorado passed legislation that will impact RMRI landscapes. NFWF invests RESTORE grants into RMRI landscapes to address conservation priorities. RMRI co-convener NWTF describes RMRI as a model in conservation.


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.

Oct. 4-6, 2022 – RMRI in-person Partner & Leadership Team meeting/field trip RMRI

RMRI is planning the first in-person RMRI Partners Meeting in years. The multi-day event will be held in Durango. More details to follow. Past meeting summaries here.


Gov Polis Announces Wildfire Prevention and Forest Health Management Grants for Colorado Communities RMRI 

On July 11, 2022, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced eight COSWAP projects selected for funding. Projects range from $500,000-$1,000,000 and will be matched by $4 million in local, federal, or other state funding. Colorado Department of Natural Resources’ Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) was launched through the bipartisan SB21-258 to invest $25 million in targeted wildfire risk mitigation, prioritize and fund key mitigation projects. COSWAP is designed to quickly move $17.5 million state stimulus dollars to start on-the-ground work on fuels reduction projects and increase Colorado's capacity to conduct critical forest restoration and wildfire mitigation work that will increase community resilience and protect life, property and infrastructure. Funded projects include:


  • RMRI Southwest Colorado - Mancos Conservation District: RMRI SW Colorado - Northwest Mancos Priority Zone, $1,000,000
  • RMRI Upper Arkansas - Chaffee County: Upper Arkansas Thrives - Landscape Level Resilience in Chaffee County, $500,000
  • RMRI Upper Arkansas - Lake County: Lake County CWPP Fuels Reduction Project, $500,000
  • RMRI Upper South Platte - Jefferson Conservation District: Upper South Platte Landscape Resilience, $1,000,000



$1M for Upper Ark Valley wildfire work: COSWAP funding to help start new forest mitigation projects this fall RMRI-Upper Arkansas

The Upper Arkansas River Valley is an RMRI focus area, which made Envision Chaffee County and Lake County eligible for state COSWAP funding from Colorado’s DNR. More…



$1M from RESTORE Colorado significantly advances Envision Forest Health Council’s long-term goals RMRI-Upper Arkansas

In another sign of progress towards achieving the goals of the Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and Bird Conservancy of the Rockies jointly secured $305,700 in grant funds to reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire and restore wildlife habitat along the west side of Highway 24 north of Buena Vista. Bird Conservancy of the Rockies identified and developed the project in a collaborative effort to support the Envision Forest Health Council’s goal to address wildfire threat and improve wildlife habitat in Chaffee County. The new grant will be matched with $289,000 from the Town of Buena Vista, the NFF’s Upper Arkansas Forest Fund, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Envision Chaffee County and the Bureau of Land Management. The grant award comes courtesy of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s RESTORE Colorado to help fund 425 acres of forest thinning on public and private land, known as the Riverside Upland Restoration Project. Work is expected to begin this fall.



RMRI releases quarterly issue of The Source, partnerships RMRI

The RMRI Communications Subcommittee released it’s quarterly issue of The Source. Each issue focuses on one of four topics: accomplishments, projects, partnerships and subcommittees. This issue focuses on partnerships. Read The Source…



MSI announced as recipient of RESTORE Colorado grant funding RMRI-SW RMRI-SW

The Mountain Studies Institute (MSI)—an RMRI Partner—was announced as a recipient of RESTORE Colorado grant funding for its work in the Mancos Watershed. This project aims to restore riparian habitat and revegetate degraded floodplains, in-stream habitat and improve hydrology to benefit native fish like the roundtail chub and bluehead sucker. The goal is to improve fish passage, open access to 16 miles of stream for fish refugia, restore 1.34 miles of stream geomorphology and aquatic habitat, restore 11.32 acres of floodplain, and treat 40 acres for invasive tamarisk. More…



DNR’s Dan Gibbs selected for Federal Commission on Wildfire Preparation & Mitigation RMRI

On July 8, 2022, Colorado Governor Polis selected RMRI Partner Dan Gibbs, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, to the federal Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. The Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission is a partnership of the Departments of Agriculture, Interior and Homeland Security through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). More…

RMRI Partner Club 20 invites you to its 2022 Summer Policy Committee Meetings. RMRI

Policy Committee Chairs & Club 20 Members will have the opportunity to meet & hear pro-con discussions about current legislation and issues impacting the region and to evaluate new and existing policy resolutions. Club 20 Policy Committee Meetings also include presentations from subject matter experts & industry leaders. More...



CWDG program (funded through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) RMRI

The USDA Forest Service’s Community Wildfire Defense Grants (CWDG) will be awarded to at-risk communities, including Indian Tribes to (A) develop or revise a community wildfire protection plan; and (B) carry out projects described in a community wildfire protection plan that is not more than 10 years old. Estimated funding of over $150 million annually will be available nationally over the next five years. Expect details to be released July 29 at forestrygrants.org. Applicants will have 60 days to apply.


USPP makes internal improvements RMRI-Upper South Platte

The Upper South Platte Partnership (USPP) is making progress in the RMRI-Upper South Platte landscape. USPP participated in the Evergreen CMAT SWOT analysis event in June and will continue to work with community partners to address wildfire concerns and capacity building for mitigation projects and collaborative wildland fire response. Additionally, the partnership is reviewing and updating its guiding documents and protocols, which were originally created in 2015, to reflect how the partnership has since evolved. For example, its Management and Science Team (MST) is scheduled to review and update prioritization zones and identify the next projects for planning and development. Also, USPP is in the process of evaluating its website needs as an outreach and communication tool with plans to create a new website that meets ADA standards.  



The OREC team hits the road! RMRI

This summer, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) team will be traveling around Colorado conducting listening sessions and visits with community partners. Mark your calendars and join us for a brief presentation about our new grant programs and a town hall discussion when we're in your region! A list of upcoming stops and additional details can be found on our website. New locations and dates will be added as we finalize our schedule. Registration is required. More…


SJNF awarde


d for work on RMRI RMRI-SW

The San Juan National Forest was recognized as excelling as a high-performing agency for its Rocky Mountain restoration initiative; it won the honor for 2021. More…



MFP launches 15 million project to retrofit mill to run on its own wood chips RMRI-SW

Montrose Forest Products partners with the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative to foster healthy, functioning forests to support suitable wildlife habitat and populations. Today, MFP is working on a $15 million project to retrofit the mill to run on its own wood chips. As a leader in biomass utilization, the mill will be capable of producing 1.25 megawatts of electricity—enough to be self-sustaining.


WAP complete Opportunity Fund project RMRI-SW

Wildfire Adapted Partnership also recently completed an Opportunity Fund project to create an ArcGIS story map for their organization. Learn more about the story of WAP and the communities they support at WAP: Adapting to Wildfire in Southwest Colorado Story Map.



Members to Wildfire Commission announced RMRI

The Departments of Agriculture, the Interior and Homeland Security through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) selected members to the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. Established by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and announced in December 2021, the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission will play a key role in recommending ways that federal agencies can better prevent, mitigate, suppress and manage wildland fires. It will also recommend policies and strategies on how to restore the lands affected by wildfire. More…

The latest edition of The Source,

RMRI's quarterly newsletter.

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In this issue of The Source, we focus on RMRI Partners in each of RMRI's three Colorado landscapes in the Southwest, Upper Arkansas and Upper South Platte.

Read The Source today!


A Model in Conservation

The Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative continues to build steam, impacting forest restoration and water resources in the West. More…



Chaffee and Lake Counties each receive $500,000 Colorado wildfire prevention grant for regional effort

Chaffee and Lake Counties, have received a combined $1,000,000 in grants focused on forest health and wildfire mitigation in the Upper Arkansas River Valley. The awards are made to Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative (RMRI):


  • RMRI Upper Arkansas – Chaffee County: Upper Arkansas Thrives – Landscape Level Resilience in Chaffee County, $500,000
  • RMRI Upper Arkansas – Lake County: Lake County CWPP Fuels Reduction Project, $500,000



Colorado steps up wildfire mitigation work: One lightning strike away from megafire

On July 11 in Evergreen, CO, Governor Jared Polis, Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) announced the progress of Colorado's forest and wildfire mitigation strategies, including DNR’s Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP), showcase COSWAP’s partnership with the Colorado Youth Corps Association and celebrate the state’s forest health initiatives. More…


Wildfire Mitigation Increases Odds of Saving Colorado Homes

The number of acres burned in the United States is approximately 112% above the 10-year average, according to the June wildfire outlook from the National Interagency Fire Center. Last year, state lawmakers passed the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program, which provides funding for communities to take on mitigation projects. More…


Dan Gibbs, former Summit County leader, chosen for federal wildfire commission

Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, was one of two state officials to be appointed to the federal Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. More…


Opinion: Putting the pieces together for healthy rangelands

Co-authored by RMRI Partner Patt Dorsey of the National Wild Turkey Federation, a team of conservationists explain that achieving healthy rangelands requires a humane, non-lethal, long-term management plan for horses. More…



From the Chief’s Desk: Increased Payments for Firefighters Achieved

On June 21, U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore announced that by the end of June 2022, USDA Forest Service wildland firefighters on the roles prior to May 21, 2022, will begin seeing additional pay, which is retroactive to October 1, 2021. The remaining wildland firefighters will begin seeing additional pay between early July and August 2022. This pay will be a portion of an additional $20,000 per year, or 50% of their base pay, whichever is less. The base salary increase applies to all firefighter designated positions (primary or secondary positions alike), whether they are permanent or temporary. More…



USDA: Restore forests, improve resilience, curb climate change

On June 23, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a memorandum to the USDA Forest Service directing the agency to take bold actions to restore forests, improve resilience, and address the climate crisis. The actions directed in Secretary Vilsack’s memorandum include identifying forests at risk, how those areas are currently managed, and analyzing how potential data gaps might be resolved. The Forest Service analysis will then be used to develop a decision support tool to enhance carbon stewardship, wildlife habitat, watersheds, outdoor recreation and more. More…


Communications Subcommittee


Communications Subcommittee June 21, 2022, meeting notes here.


As part of the RMRI Comms Subcommittee guest speaker series, the subcommittee invited Cindy Williams to have a discussion on how the RMRI Communications Subcommittee can support the Upper Arkansas landscape. Cindy Williams is an RMRI Partner representing the RMRI-Upper Ark landscape. Cindy co-leads Envision Chaffee County in the Upper Arkansas landscape. Envision facilitates the RMRI Upper Ark Project, the Forest Health Council and the Chaffee Rec Council. Cindy discussed these opportunities where RMRI can assist:

  • Lake County. Chaffee County expanded the Community Wildfire Prioritization bang-for-your-buck model to include Lake County. Lake County just received COSWAP funding. Telling that story and engaging the media is where RMRI can help.
  • We’ve been working on materials for landowner engagement as part of Chaffee Treats program. Goal is to treat 10,000 acres on the private side by 2030. We’re engaged with AFF to provide landowner communication graphics—but AFF has lost some funding and capacity. We could use help with 1-pagers/graphics for landowners.
  • In general, we’re working to do more prescribed burns in our landscape. But in light of recent events where USFS lost control of prescribed burns, we’re looking for materials on how to discuss prescribed fires (i.e. safeguards, why we need it, etc.).
  • We have a lot of recreation impacts to wildlife interface. We’re looking for ways to better communicate the impacts recreators have on wildlife.
  • Continue to keep potential funders informed of the restoration work in the RMRI-Upper Arkansas landscape.


July 27, 1-3 p.m. RMRI Workforce Capacity Subcommittee

RMRI invites you to the next RMRI Workforce Capacity Meeting via Zoom. Request to join the meeting at restoretherockies@gmail.com. Past meeting summaries and more at https://restoringtherockies.org/workforce-capacity-subcommittee



July 26-28: 2022 Western Governors' Association Annual Meeting

The Western Governors' Association welcomes eight Western Governors and four Cabinet Secretaries to its Annual Meeting in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, July 26-28. Governors will discuss the most important issues facing the region, including wildfire, drought, cybersecurity, and the supply chain with a diverse slate of regional experts. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg will also provide keynote addresses and sit for roundtable discussions with the Governors. View the full agenda here.



August 23-24: Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference

Annual summer conference takes place in Steamboat Springs, CO. More…


Oct. 4-6, 2022 – RMRI in-person Partner & Leadership Team meeting/field trip RMRI

RMRI is planning the first in-person RMRI Partners Meeting in years. The multi-day event will be held in Durango. More details to follow. Past meeting summaries at https://restoringtherockies.org/meeting-summaries.



October 11-12: 2022 Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference

Located at the Westin in Avon, Colorado, the theme this year is, Bridging Connections: Learning from the Past, Investing in the Future. More…


The following 2022 Colorado legislative outcomes was provided by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources at the June 15 RMRI virtual meeting.






  • SB22-151: Safe Crossings For Colorado Wildlife And Motorists
  • HB22-1072: Reauthorized the Habitat Partnership Program
  • SB22-166: Reauthorizes the nongame tax checkoff
  • HB22-1329 (budget): Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnerships Program (CPW) - $860,000 and 1.0 FTE
  • HB22-1329 (budget): Implementing Big Game Policy Report Recommendations - $1.15m and 8.0 FTE






  • SB22-168: Backcountry Search And Rescue - $1 million to support BSAR volunteers
  • HB22-1329 (budget): Support Outdoor Recreation and Conservation (CPW) - $5.9 million and 15.5 FTE
  • HB22-1329 (budget): Supporting Access to Sweetwater Lake - $515k and 3.3FTE


Colorado State Forest Service Programs




  • HB22-1166: Incentives Promote Colorado Timber Industry

·      Passed:


  • Forest Restoration & Wildfire Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) Grant Program: (Statewide) ~$15M available in 2022-23
  • HB22-1011: Wildfire Mitigation Incentives For Local Governments. $10M to match local funding for wildfire mitigation
  • HB22-1007: Assistance Landowner Wildfire Mitigation. CSFS grant program for local outreach & education + homeowner fuels reduction tax credit
  • SB22-007: Increase Wildfire Risk Mitigation Outreach Efforts. CSFS and DFPC enhance state wildfire risk awareness campaigns





  • SB22-080: Funding for wildfire investigations



  • SB22-206: Disaster Preparedness And Recovery Resources - post-disaster rebuilding
  • SB22-114: Fire Suppression Ponds Water Rights - allows board of county commissioners to apply to the state engineer for the designation of a pond as a fire suppression pond



Watersheds - Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB)




  • HB22-1379: Wildfire Prevention Watershed Restoration Funding. $10M to address post-fire watershed restoration and advance a landscape scale approach to building Wildfire Ready Watersheds. $5M to support and empower local governments, districts, and non-profits to leverage federal Infrastructure Bill funding through direct grants and technical assistance.
  • Long bill - Increase of $800,000 and 9.0 FTE at CWCB and DWR to provide regional support for the Water Plan Grant Program and the development of high-quality water projects
  • SB22-028: Groundwater Compact Compliance Fund. Provides relief for farmers and ranchers in the Republican and Rio Grande Basins.
  • HB22-1151: Turf Replacement Program. Directs the Colorado Water Conservation board to provide $2 million for state matching funds for turf replacement programs to promote water-wise landscaping.


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.

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RMRI is a Shared Stewardship pilot project that mobilizes 40+ Partners across federal, state, Tribal and local jurisdictions to increase pace and scale of forest restoration. Partners direct investments at improving a few larger landscapes rather than make slow progress in multiple small places. RMRI Partners plan together, prioritize together and act together. Partners are restoring landscapes in the RMRI-Southwest, RMRI-Upper Arkansas and RMRI-Upper South Platte landscapes.

Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative