Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative
Monthly Update | October 2021
The Monarch Pass project is part of a larger plan to reduce wildfire risk on more than 20,000 public acres and 10,000 private acres in the Upper Arkansas River watershed. South Platte Ranger District plans prescribed burning for areas in Douglas and Jefferson Counties, while Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) is working on 73 acres of Meyer Ranch Park. To the southwest, thinning projects are in the plans pending weather conditions. Meanwhile, CSFS is completing a statewide biomass assessment, applications are now open for EPA's ‘Recreation Economy for Rural Communities’ 2021 program, Colorado’s new airtanker base will serve a 600-mile radius, and the U.S. Forest Service is now accepting applications for $13 million in new funding opportunities to support market innovation in wood products and wood energy.
Chaffee awarded $5.7M to reduce community wildfire risk RMRI-Upper Arkansas
The National Forest Foundation’s Upper Ark Forest Fund won a competitive grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. In total, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $5.7 million in the implementation of Chaffee County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which maps where to treat forested lands to reduce risk at the highest cost efficiency and community benefit. More...

Salida Ranger District Plans Prescribed Burning for Areas in Chaffee County RMRI-Upper Arkansas
As part of the ongoing hazardous fuels reduction project, the Salida Ranger District will conduct prescribed burns in Chaffee County, beginning as early as October 19, 2021, and continuing through December 2021, conditions permitting. The Mount Shavano Prescribed Fire project includes burning 434 acres five to seven miles west-northwest of Poncha Springs, Colorado. The North Trout Creek Prescribed Fire project includes burning 917 acres approximately four miles east of Buena Vista, Colorado. More…

South Platte Ranger District Plans prescribed burning for areas in Douglas and Jefferson Counties RMRI-South Platte
As part of the ongoing hazardous fuels reduction project, the South Platte Ranger District will conduct prescribed burns in the Noddles project area of Douglas County and the Sand Springs area in Jefferson County, beginning in mid-October and continuing through December 2021, conditions permitting. The Sand Springs project area in Jefferson County is located at the junction of County Road 126 and Forest Service Road 550. The Noddles project area in Douglas County is located along County Road 67, near the community of Sprucewood, Colorado. More…

Meyer Ranch Park Treatments RMRI-South Platte
Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) is working on 73 acres of Meyer Ranch Park. Meyer Ranch Park has property on both sides of Highway 285, but the project will focus on the property on the south side. JCOS has a State Fire Assistance grant to treat 37 acres on the property.

Forest Service conducting prescribed burns at Dolores Ranger District RMRI-SW
If weather conditions permit, the Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest will conduct several prescribed burns this fall. By reducing vegetation and hazardous ground fuels, these prescribed burn projects will reduce the risk of unplanned large-scale wildfire, help restore ponderosa pine ecosystems, and improve wildlife habitat.

San Juan National Forest to conduct pile burning this fall and winter RMRI-SW
The San Juan National Forest plans to burn slash piles this fall and winter generated from forest thinning and timber sales. Forest thinning projects improve forest health and wildlife habitat and reduce the risk of wildfire near private residences and other infrastructure. Thinning slash is piled and burned to remove the debris that would fuel wildfire. More…

Thinning projects completed in Junction Creek Area, hauling begins this weekend RMRI-SW
The San Juan National Forest’s Columbine Ranger District recently completed a thinning project in the Junction Creek. The goal of this project is to improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfire by removing the smaller, densely growing ponderosa pine trees on the 70-acre area. According to post-thinning monitoring data from Mountain Studies Institute and the Columbine Ranger District, the forest density and structural variability goals for the project were met. The project aligns with the goals of RMRI to protect communities, recreation economies, wildlife habitats, and water resources. More…

Colorado’s new airtanker base will serve 600-mile radius, protect multiple states RMRI
A new airtanker base in Colorado will serve a 600-mile radius protecting 15 states in four U.S. Forest Service regions. This new facility is expected to be operational for the 2022 fire year. The base beefs up wildfire operations in Colorado and the surrounding area. This facility is being designed to handle airtankers of all sizes and capabilities currently contracted with the Forest Service, as well as VLATs of any size that may be contracted in the future. More…

CSFS completing statewide biomass assessment RMRI
To compliment National Forest Products week (Oct. 18-24), the Colorado State Forest Service announced that they will be completing a statewide biomass assessment to shed light on current and near-term opportunities to grow and expand the states forest products harvesting and manufacturing infrastructure. “This is an ambitious assessment involving available biomass supply, quality, and cost, traditional and emerging investment ready technologies and markets,” said Dr. Kurt Mackes, senior research scientist and lead of the assessment team for the CSFS. “It will also inform state efforts on carbon and climate mitigation and involve inputs from stakeholders including industry and USDA Forest Service partners and our statewide Rocky Mountain Forest Restoration Initiative,” said Tim Reader, utilization and marketing program specialist for the CSFS.

U.S. Forest Service launches dashboard list of all open timber sales RMRI
The U.S. Forest Service published a first-ever online list that shows available timber sales on national forests, another step to improving customer service by making it easier for purchasers to find and bid on timber sale opportunities. Access the dashboard here. The dashboard is designed for the purchasers of federal timber from national forests. The dashboard currently advertises sales in Colorado. More…

Forest Service now accepting grant applications for wood products, energy RMRI
The USDA Forest Service is now accepting applications for $13 million in new funding opportunities to support market innovation in wood products and wood energy. These funds are through the 2022 Wood Innovations Grant Program and the 2022 Community Wood Grant Program. 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. More…

Video: The Truth About Beetles in Colorado RMRI
Colorado has endured two beetle-kill epidemics in the last 20 years, which has devastated the tree population throughout Colorado destroying almost 3.4 million acres and igniting catastrophic fires throughout the state. The forest products industry is playing an essential role to mitigate catastrophic wildfires. This video (courtesy of We the Forests) illustrates the importance the forest products industry—including RMRI Partners like the Colorado Timber Industry Association and Montrose Forest Products—plays in reducing fuel load, securing economic value in timber and locking up carbon emissions. Collaborative stewardship is essential to the livelihood of the forests. Video includes appearances by RMRI Partners Tim Kyllo, Patt Dorsey and Molly Pitts. Video…

Applications open for EPA's ‘Recreation Economy for Rural Communities’ 2021 program RMRI
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now accepting applications for the next round of ‘Recreation Economy for Rural Communities’ planning assistance. The deadline to apply is Nov. 22, 2021. Work with a planning team to identify strategies to grow your local outdoor recreation economy, as well as conserve and sustainably use forests and natural assets. You’re invited to attend a webinar if interested in applying for the program. Webinar is Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (MST). More...
Monarch Pass could serve as a new model for wildfire mitigation in treacherous areas
The Monarch Pass project is a tiny step in a much larger plan to reduce wildfire risk on more than 20,000 public acres and 10,000 private acres in the Upper Arkansas River watershed. The effort through large groups like the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative is stirring more communities to look beyond borders for statewide solutions to forests withering with declining precipitation and spiking temperatures. More…

RMRI and local authorities prepare for very real threat of wildfire in Durango
The risk of wildfire is knocking on Durango’s door. What’s more, in La Plata County, around 53,800 people, or about 97% of the total population, live in the wildland-urban interface. “And the truth of the matter is, we have so much potential for fire to impact those homes,” said Durango Fire Chief Hal Doughty. That’s why agencies at all levels are partnering to fortify Durango against future wildfires. Next spring, for example, the Bureau of Land Management plans to set a prescribed fire on 700-acres atop Animas City Mountain, just on the northern edge of Durango. More…
Workforce Capacity

Representatives with Skill Advance Colorado gave a presentation on their legislatively-based workforce development grant program designed to support Colorado businesses with state funding for customized job training to strengthen business competitiveness, foster talent, and maintain quality jobs. Because the primary training need for forestry and logging businesses is heavy equipment operation training, the Workforce Subcommittee discussed purchasing a simulator to help train the workforce. The cost of a simulator is between $25,000 and $50,000. The Skill Advance Colorado programs cannot fund equipment purchasing, but they have another program that can fund the development of a mobile training unit. Under this program, a college has to be the owner of the unit and will be responsible for long-term maintenance and insurance costs. Summary Notes…

Biomass Utilization

The Colorado State Legislature passed a bill (HB21-1180) to implement a biomass utilization grant program. The bill went through several iterations. A past iteration of the bill originally required the completion of a statewide biomass utilization assessment by Spring 2022. There were many concerns around the ability of researchers to deliver an assessment so quickly. The final version of the bill did not include the statewide biomass utilization assessment. However, the legislature is still requesting a biomass utilization report be completed within a two-year timeframe. RMRI Partner Dr. Kurt Mackes was charged with conducting the statewide assessment. The Colorado State Forest Service received funding allocations to conduct the assessment and hire a research associate to help support it. He has created an initial framework for what the study will look like. RMRI Partners may be able to provide perspectives that can help develop the recommendations. Summary Notes…

Social License

Teddy Parker-Renga — Associate Director of Communications and Communities at CSFS — gave a presentation on Wildfire Awareness Month. Governor Polis signed a proclamation declaring May Wildfire Awareness Month. Colorado is one of many western states to proclaim a month as Wildfire Awareness Month. RMRI members of the subcommittee agreed to assist in coordinating the release of Wildfire Awareness Month messaging. Summary Notes...
Oct. 29, 10 a.m.-noon: RMRI Workforce Capacity Subcommittee Meeting: RMRI invites you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Past meeting summaries and more at

Nov. 1, 1:30-3:30 p.m.: RMRI Social License Subcommittee Meeting: RMRI invites you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Past meeting summaries and more at

Nov. 5, 9-11 a.m.: RMRI Biomass Utilization Subcommittee Meeting: RMRI invites you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Past meeting summaries and more at

Nov. 17-18: Innovations in Forest Operations & Biomass Utilization in the Southwest Workshop
Sponsored by the USDA Wood Innovations program and the Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes, this is a sequel to the virtual wood innovations seminar back in March. New in November will be optional lumber drying course and a session on USDA Wood Innovations grants and economic assistance programs immediately preceding our workshop. Workshop held Nov. 16-18, 2021, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More…

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…
Neguse introduces bill seeking to reclassify federal wildland firefighters, boost pay and benefits
A bipartisan bill introduced Oc. 19 and sponsored by Democratic Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse would overhaul the pay, benefits and classification systems for federal wildland firefighters if passed by Congress. The measure, called the Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act, would create new classification series for federal wildland firefighters. The bill, as introduced, would require the U.S. Agriculture and Interior departments to decide how many new classifications would be made for federal wildland firefighters and which skills and duties fit each classification. More…


Infrastructure bill to address wildfire risk reduction
Congress appears far from closing their differences on social spending and climate change ahead of an Oct. 31 target date for approving a trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill and a much larger budget reconciliation plan. The infrastructure funding bill would allocate about $3.4 billion toward wildfire risk reduction efforts, including hazardous fuels reduction programs, community wildfire mitigation grants and wage increases for firefighters. More…
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