Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative
Monthly Update | May 2021
San Juan National Forest completes spring prescribed fires RMRI-Southwest 
The San Juan National Forest accomplished successful implementation of all planned prescribed fires this spring. Forest-wide, a total of 3,131 acres were treated with prescribed fire to meet defined ecological objectives. About 2,600 of those fall on the RMRI-Southwest landscape. These lower-intensity fires reduce hazardous ground fuels and lessen the risk of unplanned large wildfires. More…

RMRI-SW Colorado prioritizes landscape using PODs RMRI-SW 
The RMRI-SW Steering Committee is managing the RMRI-SW landscape using potential operational delineations, or PODs. The committee surveyed stakeholders with varied interests and values to develop a POD assessment. This input from across groups, collaboratives and agencies prioritizes the PODs and the work within the PODs.

RMRI logo, branding materials coming soon RMRI
Marketing and design team, The Truth, has been working to develop an RMRI brand. After months of research and Partner discussions, RMRI has a brand and logo. The Truth is finalizing a branding guide to include graphics and logos. The RMRI Communications Subcommittee will ensure all RMRI Partners have access to these materials, which are scheduled for release in mid-June. RMRI Partners can then use these materials, for example, on letterhead, presentations and their respective websites.

San Juan NF uses UAS for aerial ignition—a first in the greater Rocky Mountain area RMRI-SW
For the first time in the Rocky Mountain area, an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) performed aerial ignition on a prescribed fire. Watch the video here. Columbine Ranger District Fire and Fuels Management staff utilized UAS for aerial ignition on the Vallecito-Piedra prescribed fire in April. This prescribed fire project was supported by RMRI-SW and Colorado Parks and Wildlife Habitat Partnership Program. More…

U.S. Interior and Agriculture Departments outline wildland fire preparedness and climate resiliency plans RMRI
We are pleased to announce that RMRI efforts align with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s shared vision for wildland fire preparedness and response, including supporting science and research into the effects of climate change on wildland fire. Secretaries Haaland and Vilsack outlined their goals for wildland fire management in a May 13 joint memo to wildland fire leadership. Paramount to this issue is promoting climate resiliency across landscapes and communities, modernizing the firefighter workforce while creating good jobs, and protecting the safety and long-term wellbeing of our wildland firefighters and incident responders. More…

Durango eyes new fire mitigation funding method RMRI-SW
The City of Durango and La Plata County could be the first in the state to participate in a local funding strategy called the Southwest Wildfire Impact Fund (SWIF). SWIF is an RMRI partner. The funding strategy essentially borrows money upfront to pay for forest treatment work that can happen on a larger scale, and faster pace, than work funded through traditional means, like government appropriations. More…

Envision Forest Health Council outlines progress in first annual report RMRI-Upper Arkansas
A year after signing the Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, the Envision Forest Health Council reports good progress toward implementation. The plan identifies and prioritizes forest treatments and other measures that reduce wildfire risk and improve community preparedness. First-year results include:
  • 1,684 acres of forest treatments
  • 14,000 acres in the planing pipeline
  • $2.6M raised to execute treatment projects and develop new programs
  • $1.4M raised from outside sources by leveraging public funds
  • Growth in Forest Health Council membership to 35 individuals and 19 organizations
  • New participation from regional power providers, state and national conservation organizations and Lake County
  • More…

Harris Park Prescribed Burn at Pike National Forest RMRI-Upper South Platte
The Harris Park prescribed burn, Bighorn unit included a single day of ignitions on March 8 followed by several days of patrol and monitor. The 40-acre burn took place on a south facing aspect with a slope over 70%, opposite the Deer Creek campground in the Pike National Forest in Bailey, Colorado. Two days after ignitions the burn unit received several inches of snow followed by several feet of snow five days after ignitions. An historic event, this multi-agency operation marks the first time a prescribed broadcast burn has been completed in the area since 2012.
Southwest Wildfire Impact Fund has the right idea RMRI-SW
The Southwest Wildfire Impact Fund, or SWIF, is an RMRI partner in the Southwest. It would pay for large-scale forest treatment work and offer subsidies to private landowners who want to mitigate. Andy Hawk and Kyle Hanson of Timber Age Systems Inc support SWIF in this March 30 Durango Herald letter to the editor. More…

New partnerships help reduce wildfire threat RMRI-SW
The proposed Southwest Wildfire Impact Fund, the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative and La Plata County’s recently established Wildfire Advisory Board are all steps in the right direction and are important partners in the critical work we need to do to protect lives and property in Southwest Colorado. Ashley Downing, executive director of Wildfire Adapted Partnership, explains in this April 23 Durango Herald letter to the editor. More…

Commercial wood use helps reduce wildfire threat RMRI-SW
It is this mix of forest products and infrastructure that helped lead to our community’s selection to host the new Rocky Mountain Forest Restoration Initiative (RMRI) and the Southwest Wildfire Impact Fund (SWIF), explains Tim Reader in this April 24 Durango Herald letter to the editor. More…

Wildfire fund will help mitigate the inevitable RMRI-SW
In response to Colorado breaking its record for the largest wildfire three times last year, RMRI and NWTF leader Patt Dorsey praises SWIF in this April 6 Durango Herald letter to the editor. More…

Colorado conservation corps readies for new positions RMRI-SW
Colorado conservation corps recently began collaborating with RMRI-SW. And with the recent proposed investments in economic development, outdoor recreation, and natural resource protection, Colorado conservation corps expect to add between 50 to several hundred seasonal positions which are launching pads to long-term careers. Additionally, the corps has the potential to add more than 50 long-term, full-time paid internships with natural resource agencies to develop the next generation of natural resource professionals. The Colorado conservation corps refers to the eight accredited corps in the Colorado Youth Corps Association

CSFS releases updated guide to prepare homeowners for wildfire RMRI
More than half of all Coloradans live in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), where homes and other structures meet wildland vegetation, and are at some risk of being affected by wildfire. The Colorado State Forest Service recently released an updated guide to address the home ignition zone, or the structure and the area around it. The Home Ignition Zone offers updated guidance on how residents can prepare their home for wildfire. More…

Southwest Conservation Corps Offering fire positions to Veterans RMRI
The Southwest Conservation Corps—part of the Colorado Youth Corps Associations—seeks Veterans age 21-35 to join its Veterans Fire Corps. These are paid volunteer opportunities that include training and a weekly stipend. Positions are based out of Durango and Salida, Colorado. For more, visit

Durango, La Plata County look to new funding model for fire mitigation RMRI-SW
The City of Durango and La Plata County Government could be the first participants in a new way to pay for fire mitigation. City and county officials are considering an “intriguing” option, the Southwest Wildfire Impact Fund, or SWIF, which would pay for large-scale forest treatment work and offer subsidies to private landowners who want to mitigate. RMRI and SWIF are partnering to restore the Southwest Colorado landscape. More…

Everything to know about the 2021 wildfire season in Colorado RMRI
9 News released this useful guide to how wildfires start, what makes them spread and resources for people who are rebuilding after 2020's record-setting season. More…
Montrose Forest Products, LLC (MFP) is a sawmill out of Montrose, Colorado, that produces 2”x4” and 2”x6” stud lumber from Engelmann Spruce, White fir, Lodgepole pine and Sub-Alpine fir and 1”x4”, 1”x6”, 1”x8” boards from Ponderosa Pine. MFP is a purchaser of standing timber from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and non-industrial private lands.

The company employs 95 people directly and produces approximately 82 million board feet of finished lumber annually. 

Current projects in the RMRI-SW footprint include commercial thinning of Ponderosa pine on a 1,600-acre private property near Delores, Colorado. MFP is also working a timber sale with the U.S. Forest Service approximately 10 miles southeast of Dove Creek, Colorado.            

Montrose Forest Products partners with the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative to foster healthy, functioning forests to support suitable wildlife habitat and populations.

MFP plays such a critical role to RMRI’s mission by beefing up capacity to meet forest management needs. And by decreasing our reliance on imported wood products, we significantly reduce the costs of forest management, the severity of our wildfires, and increase economic well-being of our rural communities.

“We partnered with RMRI to tackle problems that might otherwise be impossible handled singly,” said Tim Kyllo, MFP resource forester and member of several RMRI subcommittees. “Together we share the same values, resources and responsibility.”
Governance Subcommittee

Annual review of RMRI Governance Charter
The Governance Subcommittee held a meeting May 7 to conduct an annual review of the RMRI Governance Charter. Expect results and outcomes in the next issue.


Biomass Utilization Subcommittee

Air curtain burner pilot project would produce biochar in Colorado
Subcommittee members recently discussed the opportunity for the state to host and operate an air curtain burner pilot project. The Colorado Governor's Office asked state agencies to develop proposals for potential federal stimulus funding, with the direction to think big and creatively. The Department of Natural Resources proposal included, among other things, a request to purchase two air curtain burners to produce biochar. The air curtain burners can produce biochar from woody material and invasive species. The Governor's Office is interested in biochar from the carbon sequestration perspective. The next step for the air curtain burner is for state agencies to determine who will host, maintain, and operate the equipment moving forward. The pilot project could be on state lands or connected with large-scale forest management projects. Meeting notes…

Wood Utilization Seminar Recording
The Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes (SWERI) Wood Innovations seminar held the first week of March is now available at this link under the Webinar Video and Presentation Links section. The Seminar is broken down into recorded segments, and there are time references so you can fast forward, locate, and watch the individual presenters/presentations.


Workforce Capacity Subcommittee

Workforce Capacity Webinar
The RMRI Workforce Capacity Subcommittee is focused on workforce development. Colorado's forestry industry is small but mighty. However, the forestry workforce is aging. The average age of a logger is 69, and the average age of a trucker is 70. There is a need to recruit younger people to get trained in this profession. In January, the Workforce Capacity Subcommittee hosted a webinar drawing in experts from across America. The purpose of the webinar was to learn from other programs across the country that are developing or have developed educational programs to train people in forestry equipment operations. Watch it here and presentation here.

Strategy begins taking shape
Changing climates, wildfires, water shortages and invasive species require a new workforce. Colorado's forestry industry is small and taxed by the demands on our forest landscapes and watersheds. Average age of the logger is 69 and average age of the trucker is 70. There is a need to recruit younger people. To address this cross-boundary problem, a three-prong strategy is taking shape within the Workforce Capacity Subcommittee: help industry, targe education and support recreation. Stay tuned for future developments and outcomes.


Social License Subcommittee

RMRI Social License Messaging
The Social License Subcommittee has through consensus developed core messaging to generate public buy-in. Messaging focuses on Need, Prescribed Fire, Fire Adapted Communities, and Active Forest Management. The subcommittee is now applying its messaging to specific RMRI project areas. Messaging will soon be available and shared with RMRI Partners. If you’re interested in joining the Social License Subcommittee, contact Patt Dorsey via email at


Communications Subcommittee

RMRI logo selected
The Communications Subcommittee agreed that Partners should help shape our identity and determine logo. The process began in November 2020 when the National Wild Turkey Federation funded The Truth for RMRI branding and logo design. The Truth interviewed RMRI leadership to develop strategy behind logo design. They designed three logos, which were vetted through the Communications Subcommittee. RMRI Partners then cast their vote on the logo that best represents RMRI. The winning logo was announced at the May 11 RMRI Partnership meeting. View the winning logo (Concept A) here. The RMRI Communications Subcommittee will ensure all RMRI Partners have access to branding and logo materials, which are scheduled for release in mid-June.

Partners considers name change, but stick with RMRI
In November 2020, NWTF funded The Truth for RMRI branding and logo design. While developing a branding strategy behind logo design, they also recommended a name change with the logo. The RMRI Governance Charter states that a Communications Subcommittee role is to “Develop a RMRI brand that respects and recognizes the identity and history of priority landscape partners.” So RMRI communications leads determined the decision to change the name be left open for discussion. Partners at the May 11 RMRI Partnership meeting determined overwhelmingly they intended to keep the name and not change. The RMRI Communications Subcommittee will ensure all RMRI Partners have access to branding and logo materials, which are scheduled for release in mid-June.

The Source: RMRI’s quarterly newsletter
The Communications Subcommittee announced it will release its newsletter, The Source, on a quarterly basis. Each issue will focus on a theme. The next issue will focus on RMRI Partners and will be available in June. The release schedule:
  • Q1-(Oct-Nov-Dec): Subcommittees in Action; Release Date: Dec. 15, 2021
  • Q2-(Jan-Feb-Mar): Accomplishments; Release Date: Feb. 28, 2022
  • Q3-(April-May-Jun): Partners; Release Date: June 14, 2021
  • Q4-(July-Aug-Sept): Projects; Release Date: Sept. 15, 2021


RMRI In-Person/Virtual Meeting: The next RMRI Partnership meeting was tentatively scheduled for Aug. 25-26 in Durango. Due to a scheduling conflict with the Colorado Water Congress, expect new dates/times to be proposed. Additional details are forthcoming.
Colorado’s Governor Polis signed the bill into law May 20. The bill creates the outdoor recreation industry office in the office of economic development. The bill codifies the office by making it a permanent division within Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). The Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) was established in 2015, as the second outdoor recreation office in the nation (second to Utah). This legislation does two essential things: Authorizes via statute OREC and its Director within OEDIT, and declares the policies guiding OREC’s mission and activities. RMRI leader, Samantha Albert, is Deputy Director of OREC.


Colorado’s Governor Polis signed the bill into law May 20. This bill concerns increased options for financing forest health projects and, in connection therewith, financing wildfire mitigation treatments through the Special Improvement Districts for forestry activities. The bill helps local communities and other entities in teaming up to address the challenge of financing forest health projects that can help protect communities from things like devastating wildfires.


Concerning measures to increase biomass utilization throughout the state. The bill requires the state forest service to conduct a study of biomass utilization by identifying the potential costs and benefits of increasing biomass utilization throughout the state and any administrative or statutory changes needed to increase biomass utilization.


Concerning the extension of the sales and use tax exemption for beetle kill wood products. The sales and use tax exemption for sale of beetle kill wood products sunset in 2020. This bill would start the program again and continue it through 2026.


Concerning measures to create opportunities for persons who acquire experience in wildland fire services through the inmate disaster relief program. The bill requires the division of fire prevention and control (division) to develop materials to increase awareness of wildland fire career opportunities for persons who acquired experience in wildland fire services through the inmate disaster relief program (program).


Concerning transfers from the general fund to cash funds to be used to address wildland fires, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. Section 1 of the bill requires the state treasurer to transfer $6 million from the general fund to the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program cash fund. Section 2 requires the state treasurer to transfer $3 million from the general fund to the wildfire preparedness fund. This bill would make an appropriation to the CSFS of $6 million.


Concerning projects under the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program.
Note: The bill removes the $1 million limit for the grant share of individual projects under the the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant (FRWRM) program. It also adds a requirement that when the technical advisory panel (panel) considers hazardous fuel reduction projects for the program, the panel shows preference to applicants that are adopting local measures that reduce wildfire risks to people, property, and infrastructure that complement funds provided through the program.


Concerning the administration of state assistance programs to mitigate the risk of wildfire, and, in connection therewith, creating the wildfire mitigation capacity development fund and the hazard mitigation fund; transferring money into specially designed wildfire funds; and making an appropriation. The bill allows the forest service to issue forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grants for projects on federal lands, so long as the project maintains continuity across a landscape including federal lands and the area of federal lands does not exceed the combined area of the nonfederal lands involved in the project.


Concerning the creation of an optional discounted parks and public lands access pass that is purchased at the time a motor vehicle is registered, and, in connection therewith, using the pass fees to finance a number of goals of the division of parks and wildlife related to increased conservation of, safety at, and access to state parks and public lands.


In 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative to support forest and grassland restoration projects across public and private land. Over the last seven years, the initiative has supported 93 projects in 40 states and Puerto Rico to treat 300,000 acres of hazardous fuels, restore 29,000 acres in priority watersheds, and enhance 200,000 acres of wildlife habitat. Despite its success, Joint Chiefs has no formal authorization and demand for the program exceeds funding, with less than a quarter of proposed projects funded each year. The Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021 would formally establish the Joint Chiefs at USDA and double funding for the program. It would also outline clear priorities and improve community outreach, transparency, and accountability.


This bill provides for the conservation of specified lands in Colorado. Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse's Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act protects over 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establishing new wilderness areas and safeguarding existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost the economy for future generations.


The Forestry Education and Workforce Development Act creates a $20 million discretionary grant program to be divided equally between land-grant colleges, universities, and technical/vocational schools to provide degrees or certificates in forestry and forestry-related fields. It also allows reforestation to be included in federal Job Corps programs.

The bill would steer $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their wildlife action plans and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters.
If you would like your work highlighted in this monthly email update, submit to RMRI communication manager, Nathan Van Schaik at Send a concise email with as many of the 5 W’s. To discuss any communications issues or concerns, contact Nathan via email or at (720) 584-6571.
Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative