Summary by Katie McGrath Novak, Colorado Forest Health Council Member serving as “an individual employed by or associated with a forest collaborative organization”
This document summarizes points from the October 25th, 2023 Colorado Forest Health Council quarterly meeting that I believe are most relevant to Colorado’s place-based forest collaboratives. It is an interpretation of discussions from the meeting, but is not an official Forest Health Council document.
- Meeting recording (relevant timestamps linked throughout summary)
- Additional resources from the Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network (not official Colorado Forest Health Council resources):
- July 2023 quarterly meeting written summary
- Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network (CFCN) resource page: Keeping up with the Colorado Forest Health Council
- Google Drive folder with Colorado Forest Health Council resources for forest collaboratives
- Roll call & review agenda
- Approve 7/27/23 meeting minutes
- Conflict of interest language & legal guidance on types of leave and impact on quorum
Additionally, the recording does not cover the CFHC’s discussion detailing the Legislative Committee Charter, found in the meeting recording from 1:14:10 – 1:16:16.
Leveraging Resources Committee
Brett Wolk introduced the new Colorado Forest Tracker. The goal of the tracker is “to provide a transparent and comprehensive resource for communities, natural resource and fire managers, policy makers, and researchers with a better understanding of completed forest management locations across Colorado.”
- The CFHC Leveraging Resources committee has already played a role in the direction of the Forest Tracker, and due to the full Council’s range of expertise, they may act as advisors to the Tracker moving forward.
Highlighted Forest Tracker Q&A (for more frequently asked questions, see the Forest Tracker webpage):
- Q: How old of treatments can be included?
- A: January 1, 2020 – present.
- Q: Is prescribed fire included in the Forest Tracker?
- A: Yes. Anything done intentionally to manage woody vegetation.
- Q: Do you have an estimate for the ratio of data you’ll be able to collect vs. the true reality of all management being done?
- A: The Tracker will probably never track 100% of work being done; however, it will most likely capture most
- Q: Does this cover private property?
- A: Ideally, yes. The goal is that the Tracker should help understand past work and drive future work.
- Q: How would a private landowner submit data to you?
- A: There are processes for if you’re skilled in GIS wiz, have tons of data, don’t have GIS knowledge, and/or have a small number of projects. CSFS and CRFI staff want to help! Please reach out if you need tech support. Click here for data submission instructions.
In part inspired by the Colorado Post-Fire Playbook, and in part inspired by multiple communities requesting help from organizations like CFRI and CSFS to prepare for wildfire and improve forest health, the Leveraging Resources Committee has identified the need for a holistic community resource known as a Forest Resilience Planning Guide. This year, the committee drafted an outline for the guide and got generous funding from the CSFS to support its further development. CSFS drafted a scope of work to send out with a request for proposals. The Guide is estimated to be complete by June 2024.
To learn more about the Forest Resilience Planning Guide, see pages 14-15 of the CFHC 2023 Annual Report.
Other Leveraging Resources Committee updates:
At the time of this meeting, the Colorado General Assembly Interim Wildfire Matters Review Committee was discussing bills to advance. Here are the bills under consideration:
- Study Biochar in Wildfire Mitigation Efforts
- Emergency Management Plan Individuals with Animals
- Firefighter Benefits
- Assist Rural Community Wildfire-related Grant App
- Local Government Disaster-related Programs
- Standards for Wildfire Mitigation Efforts
- Incentives Promote CO Timber Industry
- Extend Outreach Campaigns Wildfire Risk Mitigation
Several of the CFHC’s recommendations to the Wildfire Matters Review Committee (available in pages 11-13 of the CFHC 2023 Annual Report) were no longer under consideration by the full Wildfire Matters Review Committee at the time of meeting (though there is still potential for them to be picked up later on). This is a topic for further understanding and discussion in further Legislative Committee meetings.
At the November 17th Legislative Committee meeting, Whitney Johnson of Gates Family Foundation will be sharing legislative recommendations from the all-new Colorado Mass Timber Coalition.
Priority duty survey results (Courtney Young)
Per establishing legislation, the CFHC has 10 statutory duties. To help narrow these, CFHC administrators sent a survey out earlier in 2023 asking Councilmembers to rank their priorities. Results are below.
Results in order from highest to lowest:
- Strategy development for growing capacity.
- Landscape scale state priorities
- Forest health and climate
- Workforce development
- 30-year vision
- Woody biomass
- Support forest-based collaboratives
Councilmembers were asked to discuss their thoughts on the survey results. Most of the discussion revolved around developing a 30-year vision. This is a statutory duty of the CFHC, and most Councilmembers agreed it is very important to have a guiding vision to work toward, but to date it has not yet been worked on.
After much discussion, Councilmembers voted to move the development of a 30-year vision to the top of the priority list, prioritizing it in 2024 while continuing to work on more immediate, short-term priorities at the same time to avoid falling behind on urgent needs. Next steps include:
- CFHC administrators and agency leadership will compile a report from relevant agencies and organizations outlining current conditions of CFHC priority topic areas.
- After reviewing the report, the CFHC will complete a visioning exercise sometime in mid-2024.
- The CFHC will also conduct a gap analysis in 2024 to determine what needs to happen to get from point A (current conditions) to point B (the CFHC’s 30-year vision).
Save the dates! 2024 CFHC quarterly meetings:
- Wednesday, January 31st
- Wednesday, April 24th
- Wednesday, July 24th
- October meeting date TBD
All meetings are currently scheduled for 9am – 12pm on their respective dates; these times are subject to change.
Matt McCombs, Colorado State Forest Service
Frank Falzone, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service
- 1st rollout of Environmental Quality Incentives Program for Inflation Reduction Act expenditures in Fiscal Year 2024; hoping to allocate 1/4mil by November 17th
- Hiring 3 Pathways foresters (application now closed)
Veronica Medina, Archuleta County Commissioner
- With 2 new fires burning in the county, seeking tools and resources to mitigate fires rather than fighting fires
Jody Shadduck-McNally, Larimer County Commissioner
- Larimer County secured grant through Department of Local Affairs to look at woody biomass strategy for the county
Dan Gibbs, Dept. of Natural Resources
- Updates read by Angela Boag in Director Gibbs’ absence
- Colorado has secured source population of gray wolves from Oregon Department of Forestry
- Mount Evans has been renamed to Mount Blue Sky
- Read the full list of Dept. of Natural Resources updates here
Abe Laydon, Douglas County Commissioner
- Douglas County has secured the largest aerial support contract in the state from a county perspective. They are partnering with Pike National Forest and Jefferson County to help with fire suppression
- Douglas County has found success with an in-kind match program for rural landowners who mitigate their land
- Successful prescribed fires have been completed recently in Douglas County
Clyde Church, La Plata County Commissioner
- More than 1000 pile burns completed in recent months through collaboratives and USFS
- Collaboratives are working well with agencies & log trucks are rolling
Mark Morgan, Morgan Timber Products:
- Timber industry is working to the max of their capacity and to the best of their ability
Julie Stencel, Xcel Energy:
- Shared an infographic from Xcel Energy’s Wildfire Mitigation Program
- Xcel is working on a pilot program evaluating artificial intelligence wildfire cameras that detect smoke in real time in order to notify responders early
- Reach out to Julie if you have questions or want connections to that program for your community
Ethan Bucholz, Colorado State Forest Service:
- In partnership with Rocky Mountain Research Station and Colorado State University, CSFS is working on research to better understand fuel loads. Mastication and chipping techniques are often held up by lack of effective measurements, and this aims to help.
Christina Burri, Denver Water:
- New CEO, Alan Salazar has already been out in the field looking at forestry projects that Denver Water is working on.
Katie McGrath Novak, Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network:
- Updates read by Courtney Young, since Katie was unable to attend the meeting.
- Thanks to CFHC members who attended the 2023 Colorado Forest Collaboratives Summit: Dan Gibbs, Matt McCombs,Angela Boag, Courtney Young, Frank Falzone, Clyde Church, and Brett Wolk.
- Written summary of Summit now available for those who were unable to attend or who want follow-up resources.
Vaughn Jones, Dept. of Fire Prevention and Control
- WUI Advisory Code Board had initial meeting in October
Matt Nykiel, National Forest Foundation:
- Earlier conversations mentioned subsidies for forest restoration and wildfire mitigation work. On private land, it can be difficult to ensure work will benefit the larger landscape on a long-term scale unless there is a conservation easement in place.
Getting involved with the Colorado Forest Health Council
Attend meetings | All Forest Health Council meetings are open to the public and have a segment for public comment toward the end of the meeting.
Agenda and Zoom link will be posted on the Forest Health Council webpage at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting. The Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network will also distribute meeting information when we receive it.
2024 meeting dates | Save the dates for our 2024 quarterly meetings:
- Wednesday, January 31st
- Wednesday, April 24th
- Wednesday, July 24th
- October meeting date TBD
Meeting summaries | The CFCN compiles summaries like this, along with other relevant resources, on our page Keeping Up With the Colorado Forest Health Council.
Contact | Katie McGrath Novak, Coordinator, Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network; Forest Health Council member serving as “an individual employed by or associated with a forest collaborative organization”