Outcome-based land management is a strategy that focuses on achieving outcomes across landscapes that include not only ecological goals but economic and social goals as well. In northern Colorado, Peaks to People Water Fund is working to improve watershed health and protect water resources by using collaborative, outcome-based forest management in areas of high wildfire risk. With this goal in mind, Peaks to People partnered with Sitka Technology Group to develop the Watershed Health Outcomes Tracker. This sophisticated, web-based software enables implementers, landowners and funders to track proposed and active projects designed to improve forest health and protect water on the front range. Our tracker builds on the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) Project Tracker, for which Sitka was honored to receive a Best in Basin award in 2017.
Although the Watershed Health Outcomes Tracker is sponsored by Peaks to People, it is intended to be a clearinghouse for all project implementers and funders to track their work by reporting on estimated and actual outcomes of forest health projects in the area. This will help all the stakeholders involved determine if the work being done is occurring at scales that matter. Working together we will be able to more effectively set goals and track all the work that is being done in Northern Colorado.
Our tracker generates fact sheets for each project which include: key accomplishments (performance measures), changes in fire behavior, funding, photos and other relevant information. Performance measures demonstrate cost effectiveness and improve transparency of publicly-funded investments.
Utilizing our Watershed Investment Tool and our Co-Benefits Calculator we determine performance measures such as: acres of fuels reduced/forest restored, metric tons of reduced erosion, reduction in tonnage of sediment delivered to streams and water supplies, acres of parks, open space and crucial wildlife habitat protected from wildfire, miles of trails protected, as well as the number and value of homes protected from wildfire.
Because outcome-based land management is aimed at maintaining viable and sustainable landscapes this approach is inherently collaborative. Providing a shared resource to track projects within and across our two closest watersheds was an obvious next step for Peaks to People. We are proud to be offering such a thoughtfully designed online platform to our partners and fellow conservation organizations in Northern Colorado. Sitka’s Damon Knight recently wrote, “We’re excited to think that what started with a public investment in Lake Tahoe for the EIP Project Tracker is now helping protect salmon in Oregon’s Clackamas watershed, ensuring sustainable land practices in California, fostering stewardship across Idaho, and now – with Peaks to People – restoring forests in Colorado’s Front Range.”
At Peaks to People Water Fund our goal is to support those who are working to improve forest health and protect water in the Cache la Poudre and Big Thompson watersheds. When we share resources and knowledge we can do more for less and have greater success.