Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative
Monthly Update | November 2021
Colorado’s DNR launched the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP), which is designed to quickly move $17.5 million of state stimulus funds to fuels reduction projects—its ‘Strategic Focus Areas’ include RMRI landscapes. You’re invited to attend RMRI’s next full partnership meeting Dec. 1. Both state and federal legislation has passed into law—or is in the docket—that may offer funding opportunities for RMRI landscapes. Projects are ongoing in each of RMRI’s three landscapes (Southwest, Upper Arkansas and Upper South Platte).
RMRI Partnership Meeting Dec. 1 RMRI
RMRI members and those interested in the work of RMRI Partners are invited to attend the next RMRI Partnership meeting slotted for Wednesday, December 1, from 1-4 p.m. If you would like to join, and have not yet received an email invite, email Meeting notes from previous meetings are available here.

NFWF extends proposal requests for RESTORE Colorado 2022 RMRI
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has extended the Requests for Proposal deadlines for its annual Restoration and Stewardship of Outdoor Resources and Environment (RESTORE) Colorado Program. New deadline is December 2, 2021. There are many potential sources of funding pending legislation in Congress. Extending the deadline will allow NFWF to include additional funding if it becomes available in the next grant cycle. Awards are still scheduled for late winter/early spring 2022. This past summer, the National Forest Foundation—an RMRI Partner—won $454,000 in funding in a competitive RESTORE Colorado grant process to treat 380 acres in the RMRI-Upper Arkansas landscape. More…

NWTF’s values now align with RMRI’s values RMRI
RMRI co-convener, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), is nearing its 50th anniversary in 2023. Nearly 50 years of wild turkey conservation have provided the perfect springboard for the organization to amplify its mission to unprecedented heights. This is why NWTF is expanding efforts by honing in on their Four Shared Values, allowing the NWTF’s partners and volunteers to increase the scope of our work while staying true to the NWTF mission. Those values align perfectly with RMRI’s four values: (1) Clean Water, (2) Healthy Forests and Wildlife Habitat, (3) Resilient Communities, and (4) Robust Recreational Opportunities. More…

Podcast: CYCA executive director discusses Colorado Climate Corps RMRI
Scott Segerstrom is an RMRI Partner and the Executive Director of the Colorado Youth Corps Association. He was a guest speaker on the Climate Change Realty podcast hosted by Ethan Shapiro. To listen, connect to

Can Ponderosa Pine Bounce Back After High-Severity Fire? RMRI
Ponderosa Pine occupies approximately 2 million acres in Colorado, or 8% of its forested land. Can Ponderosa Pine bounce back after a high-severity fire? Actually, yes. Ponderosa Pines can as long burned areas are close to surviving seed sources, according to recent research by the U.S Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station. It will take work, but the new research can help managers better anticipate recovery within high-severity patches, and in turn, better determine whether tree planting treatments are needed to maintain ponderosa pine forests in the future. More...

RMRI releases ‘The Source’
The RMRI Communications Subcommittee just released the latest issue of RMRI’s quarterly newsletter, The Source. This issue focuses on RMRI projects. All issues are available at

MSI announces release of Report on Cohesive Strategy Funds RMRI-SW
The Mountain Studies Institute released its Cohesive Strategy Report. The report follows the money and lays out MSI’s objectives and accomplishments. This document is important because it illustrates how a partnership between the San Juan National Forest and MSI—forged in 2015 as a result of the West Fork Fire near Wolf Creek Pass two years earlier—blossomed into a multi-partner effort with investments to the anticipated tune of nearly $70 million dollars in future funding. Read the report.

BLM adds capacity, joins RMRI-SW Steering Committee RMRI-SW
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—which falls under the U.S. Department of Interior—manages 8.3 million acres of important public lands in Colorado. BLM lands in Southwest Colorado are a critical component of our landscape, from wilderness to WUI. We are happy announce that BLM is also actively engaged in the RMRI-SW landscape. We welcome the addition of Connie Clementson, the Tres Rios Field Office manager for the Bureau of Land Management, to the RMRI Steering Committee.

RMRI-Southwest to host PODs strategy meeting RMRI-SW
Before moving to the next phase of RMRI-SW implementation and planning, the RMRI-Southwest Steering Committee is tentatively planning a PODs Strategy Meetings in January. The RMRI-SW Steering Committee is managing the RMRI-SW landscape using potential operational delineations, or PODs

Welcome new CPW rep at RMRI-Southwest RMRI-SW
Adrian Archuleta is the Colorado Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager in Area 15. Adrian replaces Matt Thorpe and will be representing Wildlife values on the RMRI-Southwest Steering Committee. He has been a staunch advocate for wildlife habitat values throughout his career, serving as CPW’s representative on the State Trust Land Habitat Enhancement Committee and as a Habitat Partnership Program committee member. We welcome Adrian Archuleta!

Montrose Forest Products continues restoration on 1,600-acre private lands RMRI-SW
Montrose Forest Products is an RMRI Partner and logging company clearing fuels on private lands northwest of Dolores amid growing concerns the lands are subject to wildfire and beetle infestation. The goal: Improve forest health and resilience on 1,600 acres of private lands while adding fuel to the local economy. Last year, Montrose Forest products (MFP) contracted with the private landowner. About two-thirds of the ranch is covered with mature Ponderosa pine. The Montrose-based company specializes in Ponderosa pine. Fires in recent years have encroached on the family’s land from adjacent federal lands, prompting action to restore the forests’ resistance and resilience to future wildfires. Montrose forest managers first targeted unhealthy trees through sanitation and salvage harvesting, followed by limited logging to thin dense overgrown areas. The project — which began September 2020 and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023 — is staffed by local loggers and truckers, adding a shot in the arm to the local economy.

Successful prescribed fire at Sand Spring RMRI-South Platte
South Platte Ranger District fire crews conducted a successful prescribed fire Oct. 25 on the Pike-San Isabel National Forest in Jefferson County. The burn took place in the north half of the Little Morrison treatment area. A total of 143 acres were completed across two days on mostly Ponderosa Pine with a small amount of dry mixed conifer. RMRI Partner, the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, has been collecting and monitoring data there for the past five years.

Rec ‘Adopters’ collect thousands of campsite surveys RMRI-Upper Arkansas
Volunteers with Chaffee Recreation Adopters helped collect more than 2,200 campsite surveys this summer, shown by the blue dots. 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 Campsite Collector App was used by dozens of volunteers starting in mid-June and over four months, all of the campsites located along the county’s forest road system had been surveyed. The project illustrates how RMRI-Upper Arkansas leaders are leaning on technology and volunteers to generate new resources for land managers. More…
DNR announces Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program
The Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Nov. 16 the launch of the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP). COSWAP was created after the devastating 2020 fire season by the Colorado legislature through the bi-partisan supported SB21-258. 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. According to DNR’s COSWAP webpage, its ‘Strategic Focus Areas’ include Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata and Teller counties plus RMRI focal areas. More…

Governor Polis appoints RMRI members to Colorado Forest Health Council
Governor Polis recently appointed members to the Forest Health Council. Several members are from RMRI including: Aaron Kimple, Mountain Studies Institute, Patt Dorsey, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Selwyn Whiteskunk, Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council, and Samantha Albert, Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. More…

2020 outdoor recreation industry revenues drop amid pandemic
Although visitors flooded public lands during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, new economic data shows the outdoor recreation industry's economic output shrank last year to $688 billion — a drop of about $100 billion over 2019. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for $374.3 billion of the gross domestic product, or about 1.8% of the nation's economy. That figure is down from 2019, when it totaled $465 billion, or about 2.2% of the overall GDP. In Colorado, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for $9.6 billion, or about 2.5% of the state’s total GDP. While Colorado’s outdoor recreation value decreased 23% since last year’s data, (compared with a 19.5% decrease for the entire U.S.), Colorado ranked 10th among all states in outdoor recreation employment and 12th among all states in outdoor rec economy value-added. More…

Conservation vs. Preservation: Why the NWTF Prefers Only One
RMRI and NWTF leader, Tom Spezze, explains the difference between conservation and preservation. “Our forefathers of conservation got it right when they framed conservation as being the wise use of our natural resources, and that to do otherwise would result in a diminished condition that we will pass on to future generations to endure,” said Spezze, national director of field conservation and state policy for the National Wild Turkey Federation. The conservation viewpoint, which is what the NWTF adopts, seeks a harmonious relationship with the land, its natural resources and humans, a give-and-take dynamic. More…

The health of Colorado’s forests is more critical than ever
We need our forests, and we need them in good shape. “It’s a cascading issue with no simple solution,” says Daniel Beveridge, wildfire mitigation program specialist at the Colorado State Forest Service. Beveridge sits on the RMRI Social License Subcommittee. “Fire is directed in its behavior by fuels, weather, and topography. We can do nothing about topography. There’s very little we can do about weather. When it comes to fuels, we can manage that, but it takes a lot of time, effort, skill, and funding.” More…

OPINION: Invest in Colorado’s forests with Build Back Better Act
Congressman Joe Neguse and Dan Gibbs—RMRI Partner and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources—contend that the enormous scale and intensity of climate-influenced events demand a historic investment in America’s forests to mitigate wildfires and to harness the natural climate solutions of our lands. The two are endorsing a plan, as outlined in the Build Back Better Act, which includes direct, historic investments in wildfire prevention efforts both in and outside the Wildland Urban Interface to help local firefighters and protect businesses and communities. More…
Workforce Capacity Subcommittee

Tim Reader and Molly Pitts have been working with potential applicants to explore options to pursue an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant. Community colleges or a local or regional economic development group are best positioned to apply for EDA grants to develop a timber industry training program. However, community colleges are not yet ready to stand up a program. In particular, Pueblo Community College – Bayfield is not prepared to stand up a program, but they are interested in exploring the option for future applications. There may be an opportunity to apply for EDA funding to get a forestry equipment simulator into Southwest Colorado. The simulator could then be taken to different community colleges and corps programs around Southwest Colorado as a demonstration. Meeting notes…

Communications Subcommittee

At our RMRI LT/Partner Meeting in September, we heard from leaders and partners. Leaders are busy and Partners are in motion with work complete and in progress. RMRI Partners are humming. Yet our messaging suggests we’re in a planning phase, stuck in the year 2019. The Communications Subcommittee met to reflect on how we’re talking about RMRI to the public and among ourselves. The question we tried to answer was, “What are RMRI’s communications needs?” Bottom line: We need to address how RMRI is making a difference, while not adding to the “alphabet soup” noise. Meeting notes…


Social License Subcommittee

At the subcommittee meeting in October, members discussed potential strategies to increase social license. The group also built a social license calendar tracking annual events. Both the Communications and Social License Subcommittees meet Dec. 6 in a joint meeting to reevaluate the future of the subcommittees. Meeting notes...
Dec. 1, 1-4 p.m.: RMRI Partnership Meeting
The meeting will be held virtually. If you would like to join, and have not yet received an email invite, email Meeting notes from previous meetings are available here.

Dec. 6-10: SCIENCEx Webinar Series
You’re invited to attend one or all webinars hosted by U.S. Forest Service scientists. These webinars will be primarily management focused, but with applicability for participants from across sectors. Details.

Dec. 6, Joint Social License/Communications Subcommittee Meeting
RMRI invites you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Past meeting summaries and more at

Dec. 7-9: Business of Biochar
The RMRI Biomass Utilization Subcommittee invites you to the ‘Business of Biochar’ online symposium Dec. 7-9. The purpose of this event is to share info about the opportunities for growth, investment and the business development prospects for biochar. To learn more, or to register, visit here.

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…
Infrastructure bill expands funding opportunities Federal
On Nov. 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Act into law. How this will impact RMRI remains to be determined. But opportunities arise as select funding will go toward land/water restoration and reducing wildfire hazard. Funding includes:
  • $2.13 billion for ecosystem restoration, including, but not limited to, hundreds of millions for federal contractors, states and tribes to implement restoration projects on federal, state or private land.

  • $8 billion toward megadrought mitigation efforts, restoring aquatic ecosystems, and repairing dams.

  • $3.37 billion will go toward projects and programs intended to reduce wildfire hazard, including forest thinning and prescribed burns. 

Colorado wildfire committee approves grant programs State
The print and online news source, Colorado Politics, reports on what came out of the state of Colorado’s Wildfire Matters Review Committee, which, according to Angela Boag of DNR, provides a good summary at this point of what's on the table for forest management at the state legislature this session. The Wildfire Matters Review Committee is Colorado’s state legislative panel that studies wildfire mitigation and prevention. It recently approved a full slate of bills – including a series of grant programs and a public awareness campaign. The committee – which features six Democrats and four Republicans – cleared five bills that are now en route to Legislative Council. The bills include efforts that would:

  • Create a grant program to help counties mitigate and recover from wildfires by funding efforts to clear wood and forest debris that fuels the flames. The original bill also included a provision on upgrades for the Colorado State Forest Service nursery, though Snyder at the meeting ran an amendment removing that provision after he said he intends to run it as a stand-alone bill.

  • Direct the Forest Service to implement a wildfire mitigation public awareness campaign for 2023 and 2024 for the 53% of the state’s population that lives in the Wildland-Urban Interface areas with grasslands, shrublands and forests.

  • Broaden the pots of money that local volunteer firefighters can be reimbursed through, a move Ginal said could combat a cycle in which wildfires cut into budgets by depressing property values.

  • Create a grant program for local governments to fund outreach to property owners on wildfire mitigation strategies. The bill also seeks to end the state income tax deduction for wildfire mitigation expenses two years earlier than scheduled and replace it with a tax credit of 25 percent of the cost incurred for wildfire mitigation.

  • Create a grant program to match funds local governments raise for wildfire mitigation, an effort Rep. Lisa Cutter said would encourage stable, long-term funding in an area she said was “severely underfunded.” Cutter, who chairs the committee, indicated she wanted to continue to work on the bill to be inclusive of cash-strapped communities that wouldn’t be able to raise funds to meet a state match.
If you would like your work highlighted in this monthly email update, submit to RMRI communication manager, Nathan Van Schaik, at Or, to discuss any communications issues or concerns, contact Nathan via email or at (720) 584-6571.
Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative