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Man working on a burnt forest
Man working on a burnt forest

Post-Wildfire Land Restoration in Colorado

  • 2022

Understanding Nature Restoration After Wildfires

How Do Wildfires Impact Forests?

When it comes to forests, not all fires are bad. Many types of forests need fire to thrive as it removes dense vegetation, creates open patches for wildlife and helps pine cones release their seeds. Low and moderate-intensity fires can also reduce the likelihood of future, large-scale catastrophic wildfires.

However, when fire is suppressed in forests as it has been e in much of North America for over 100 years - the result is the massive fires we have seen in the last decade. These are fires that burn at high intensity, destroying hundreds of thousands of acres, and threatening both human and wildlife populations.

Some forests burned by these high-intensity wildfires do not regenerate on their own or face invasion of weeds that further extend the timeline for forest recovery and increase the risk of return fires . It is in these challenged landscapes, where forests struggle to return, that Land Life believes reforestation work is most valuable.

  • Natural Causes: Wildfires are a natural occurrence in many ecosystems, crucial in ecological cycles. A common natural cause is lightning, which can ignite fires in vulnerable and dry forests.
  • Human Activities: Common causes include accidental ignitions from campfires or cigarettes and land clearing practices.
  • Climate Change Effects: Longer, more intense dry seasons and higher temperatures, both linked to climate change, significantly increase the risk and severity of wildfires.

Land Life's expertise extends to restoring lands affected by wildfires and other causes of degradation, such as pests and diseases, or areas suffering from rural abandonment, each presenting unique challenges and restoration approaches.

Land Life’s Approach to Post-Wildfire Restoration

Land Life has developed tailored strategies to rehabilitate land devastated by wildfires. Our approach combines scientific understanding with practical experience, focusing on rebuilding resilient ecosystems designed with fire breaks to reduce the risk of fire events.

  • Before the reforestation project: First, we assess the site and its surrounding area. This includes analyzing the damage caused by fire, the past fire history, and the region's climate conditions. This allows us to determine which species should be planted to ensure optimum resistance.
  • During the planting: In areas at higher risk of wildfire, we plant less densely and a diverse mix of the most resilient native tree species. Also, we increase the landscape's resiliency by considering the site's integration into the broader landscape, including roadways, fire breaks, and fire buffers (i.e., planting fire-resistant species).
  • Aftercare and management: Fire severity can also be increased in growing stands due to increased ladder fuels and biomass (dead and alive), so forest management is essential. We actively reduce wildfire risk by maintaining fire breaks, forest thinning and prescribed burning.
Case Study

Land Life Project: Spring Creek Fire, Colorado

The Spring Creek Fire occurred outside of Fort Garland and La Veta in Southern Colorado in July 2018. The fire burned 108,045 acres (437 square kilometers), which at the time was the third-largest fire in Colorado's history. Even now, five years later there are sections of the forest that have little regrowth of trees. To help this ecosystem recover, to support landowners impacted by the fire, and to recreate important habitats for species like the Rocky Mountain Elk and Canadian Lynx, Land Life has been working in this region since 2021. Image source: NASA.

Project Highlight


Native and mixed-species

  • 01

    Ponderosa Pine

  • 02

    Douglas Fir

  • 03

    Engelman Spruce

  • 04

    Blue Spruce

  • 05

    Limber Pine


Hectares Planted

man working forest
man working forest

Property Improvement

  • 01Fencing
  • 02Road Access
  • 03Snow-Clearing
  • 04Soil Clearance
  • 05Firewalls
colorado satellite
colorado satellite

44,000 tCO2

Sequestered over 40 years

Challenges — Solutions

Reviving Spring Creek: Land Life's Plan After the Wildfire

Land Life partners with Ecoculture, landowners, and local universities to design and implement nature restoration in the Spring Creek fire footprint. Working together, Land Life's high-integrity nature restoration projects prioritize quality and efficiency. The restoration strategy involves focusing on native species that are not coming back on their own post-fire, collecting seeds from nearby to ensure locally appropriate trees, planting species that are adapted to drier and hotter conditions to increase climate resiliency, and low-density cluster plantings that mimic historic forest conditions and create a more fire-resilient system. Finally, we work with private landowners who may not otherwise have the funding, capacity, or technology to complete this restoration.

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Reforesting Colorado — Our Reasons Why



Beyond Carbon


Planting for Forest Resilience

Due to lower density planting, the risk of future wildfires is substantially lower. This project will sequester approximately 44.000 tons of carbon over the first 40 years.


Strengthening Ecosystems and Local Species

This project addresses ecosystem services such as sediment flow and flood reduction over 562 hectares of land. We will restore habitats for local species, rebuilding essential wildlife corridors in the Colorado region. We also work to ensure that our plantings reestablish migration corridors for charismatic species like the Rocky Mountain elk and the Canadian Lynx.


Bringing Jobs to the Region

By working with planting crews and local partner Ecoculture, we bring jobs into the region. This project also reduces pressure on remote communities in the area struggling marginal land, and reduces the risk of town abandonment.


Who did we work with?


Planting Crews — Land Life works with local planting crews, hired by our local partner, Ecoculture.



Seedling sourcing — Investment in the local nurseries to assist in building up the capacity.



Seedling sourcing — Investment in the local nurseries to assist in building up the capacity.



More post-wildfire projects


Fresno Wildfire, Spain


Other Land Types

Case studies according to different land types and degradation causes.