|COOPERATIVE CONSERVATION CASE STUDY|
|Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership|
|Roundtable, Community Wildfire Protection Plans and Fuels Treatment Projects Mark First Full Year of Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership|
|Project Summary: The Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership is a dynamic partnership of federal, state and local governments, land-management agencies, private landowners, conservation organizations and others.|
|Homeowners in the wildland-urban interface learn about fuels mitigation at a forestry demonstration in Boulder County, Colorado.
Photo by: Katherine Timm, Colorado State Forest Service |
Colorado’s Front Range includes an explosive mix of homes situated within forest areas. These wildland-urban interface zones place people, homes, communities and natural resources at significant risk from catastrophic wildfires. Impacts to the Front Range from catastrophic wildfires in 2002 were some of the most devastating in the United States.
Increased community sustainability and safety provided through the Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership Implementation Strategy benefits local landowners, local governments, the State of Colorado and the nation.
The Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership (FRFTP) is a dynamic partnership comprised of federal, state and local governments, land-management agencies, private landowners, conservation organizations and other stakeholders. The purpose of the Partnership is to reduce wildland fire risks and restore healthy forest ecosystems through sustained fuels treatment along Colorado’s Front Range.
The primary goal of the FRFTP is to enhance community sustainability and restore fire-adapted ecosystems over a 10-year period. Key to success is extensive participation from local governments; public involvement; collaboration in identifying and supporting specific project areas and types of treatment; and building on successful projects such as the Upper South Platte Watershed Restoration Project, the Winiger Ridge Project, research at Cheesman Reservoir and the Polhemus prescribed burn.
Partnership agencies conducted a large-scale rapid assessment of hazardous fuel conditions along the Front Range to identify large areas where treatment needs are of greatest concern. As a result of the assessment, maps were developed that delineate areas of low to very high hazard, risk and values. The most immediate needs are demonstrated where the ratings for hazard, risk and values are all very high. A similar assessment was completed for non-federal lands in the interface where hazardous fuels place communities at risk. The assessments indicate that approximately 510,000 acres are high priority for treatment—300,000 acres within the Pike National Forest, 140,000 acres within the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and 70,000 acres of non-federal land.
The FRFTP builds on established and proven organizational delivery systems. Based on these models, core teams (Executive, Leadership, Ad Hoc, Communication, Implementation) comprised of representatives from federal and state agencies provide leadership and play key roles in collaboration, planning and project implementation. The core teams possess expertise and knowledge of field conditions and local constituencies, which is leveraged through the use of contractors. In addition, a steering committee comprised of representatives from the USDA Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management facilitate implementation and provide coordination for the FRFTP.
Examples of Key Partners
The Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership Roundtable (FRFTP) is comprised of six non-governmental environmental and conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy and The Wilderness Society; nine state and federal agency and policy representatives from the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and others; 15 state and local community leaders from such organizations as the American Planning Association, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado State Forest Service, County Sheriffs of Colorado, Jefferson County Open Space and the Trust for Public Lands; four representatives from the academic and scientific communities including Colorado State University and the University of Colorado; and five user group and industry leaders from such organizations as Denver Water, State Farm Insurance, the Colorado Timber Industry Association and others. Additional organizations are also participating on the ecology, economics, action advisory and community workgroups.
Results and Accomplishments
Partnership agencies treated a total of 33,378 acres on the Front Range in 2004. With an infusion of $2,100,000 from the National Forest System in the form of forest health and Stevens Authority funds, as well as State Fire Assistance grants and other funding, CSFS treated 16,625 acres. The U.S. Forest Service treated 16,141 acres at a cost of $7,900,000, and the National Park Service treated 612 acres at a cost of $326,570. Decisions for the treatment of an additional 91,000 acres of federal land are now complete, and management plans have been prepared for more than 19,000 acres of state and private land.
Research funded by the Partnership and the Rocky Mountain Research Station focused on a range of issues including mixed conifer fire history and landscape ecology, the ecological impacts of mechanical treatments, the social acceptability of fuels treatments and many other issues specific to fuels treatment on Colorado's Front Range. In 2005, scientists will summarize their findings and make the information available to foresters, other resource managers and the public to help facilitate informed discussion.
Many communication, education, and outreach activities also occurred in 2004. The Partnership produced an information brochure and quarterly accomplishment updates; developed poster exhibits that were displayed at local, state and national events; hosted congressional and media tours of project areas; brought together agency partners to discuss issues and barriers; participated in Roundtable meetings; assisted with CWPP activities and events; and established a new website to help raise awareness of issues and accomplishments.
The Partnership will continue to define success based on collaboration to cultivate support for implementing cross-boundary fuels reduction projects, extensive participation from local governments and communities, rapid and efficient implementation of hazardous fuels treatment projects and significantly increasing the number of acres treated. In 2005, the U.S. Forest Service is targeting treatment on 16,800 acres, the Colorado State Forest Service plans to treat 14,403 acres and the National Park Service will treat 729 acres. Ultimately, though, success will be based on Partnership impacts on community and watershed protection and forest restoration.
In 2004, the Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership formed the Roundtable, researched ecological and social impacts of fuels treatments, helped nearly 50 communities begin development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans and treated 33,378 acres.