Land Life Company worked with Colorado State Forestry to identify and prioritize lands in this region and is working to restore land that has been destroyed by catastrophic wildfires. Through this process we identified the Spring Creek Fire that erupted in 2018, claiming 43,724 hectares of land in Colorado’s 3rd largest fire in Colorado history as a priority area for restoration. These wildfires are the result of a century of total fire suppression by the forest managers, which has included preventing fires, and suppressing fire as quickly as possible when it is detected. This long period of fire exclusion has produced uncharacteristically dense forests. Instead of burning lightly every 7-30 years, these areas have dense understory and are now over-vegetated. If a fire does start in these conditions, these forests erupt into very big and high-intensity fires. Grasses, shrubs, and saplings in the understory form a fuel ladder, through which flames can climb to the forest canopy, killing entire forest stands. By planting at significantly lower densities (~250 trees/acre) the impact of returning wildfires should be limited. Also, the land managers are much more aware now of the importance of low-intensity fires coming through the landscape.
This project will take place in the Spring Creek Fire area in Colorado on land that is under the management of two different Homeowners associations. We are working with the Forbes Park Homeowners Association as well as the Tres Valles West Homeowners Association.
This land has been forest and ranchlands held in multi-generational large farms for 100 or more years and these forests have historically been managed for cattle grazing and low-impact forestry operations (i.e. wood harvesting).
We are conducting a site productivity assessment together with the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research of the surrounding areas of this planting site using dendrochronology. For this, we use existing areas of forest in areas close to the planting site to assess the sensitivity of the species we intend to plant, by getting a full understanding of how they have reacted in the past to climate change, variations in conditions, and extreme circumstances. This process also helps to improve the accuracy of our carbon capture predictions.
This project fits into a larger-scale watershed restoration program where different organizations are working on a landscape-scale design to address ecosystem services such as groundwater recharge and wildlife connectivity – because of this, it is important that the project should include Private forests in the long run. We work with our global partner EcoCulture on this project, who are based out of Flagstaff Arizona.