Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund: New trees needed to restore vegetation loss from summer forest fires

Wildfire burning on a mountainside
Wildfires in Durango

As the first week of the semester began, many looked toward the mountains and saw a thick haze of lingering smoke. A fire near Silver Creek has been burning since July and a much larger fire west of Aspen is nearly contained but has raged across 12,000 acres of Colorado forest.

The smoke from wildfires is unfortunately nothing new to Colorado residents. But what can we do to help? The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) has an answer: plant more trees. In 2003, the CSFS implemented the Restoring Colorado’s, Forests Fund. Donations made to the fund are used to plant seedlings in areas affected by natural disasters. Each donation of $2 provides one seedling. Over the 15 years of the fund’s efforts, over 122,000 trees have been planted.

“When a destructive wildfire hits, the first priority is protecting human life and property,” said CSFS director Mike Lester, “But for the long-term recovery of our communities and forests, planting trees provides an important means to help stabilize soils, protect water supplies and restore the landscape.”

Woman planting seedling trees
Planting seedlings on burned land

Every year, the CSFS treats thousands of acres of forestland to improve the overall quality of forestland health. Disasters such as the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed so much vegetation that the entire landscape continues to be affected with flooding and mudslides, which is why the CSFS is expressing the importance of replanting trees and restoring vegetation.

The seedlings are grown at the CSFS nursery here in Fort Collins to ensure that only the highest quality trees are being used for restoration.

“We will forever be grateful for the seedlings we received because of the generosity of people giving to the Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund,” said Larimer County landowner James Williams, who lost 35 acres of forest to the High Park Fire in 2012, and was able to begin restoration in 2013 with trees provided by the fund.

To find out more about the Restoring Colorado’s Forests fund and how you can contribute, visit the webpage.