Peaks to People is pleased to announce that the 250-acre Pole Hill forest health project in the Big Thompson watershed is underway. We are co-funding this project with substantial funds also coming from the Natural Resource Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Northern Water and the Colorado State Forest Service. This project is located in the headwaters of Cottonwood Creek which drains to the Big Thompson River and is headed up by the Big Thompson Conservation District. Building upon past and planned fuel treatments in the area this project is designed to reduce wildfire fuel loads while restoring the forests to a healthy state.
Identifying Local Needs
We recently caught up with Matt Marshall, Conservation Forester for the Big Thompson Conservation District to learn more about the benefits the Pole Hill and other projects have had on our local economy through job creation. Matt explained, “Roughly 3 years ago the conservation districts on Colorado’s northern front range began to implement large-scale forest restoration treatments. After initial project delays, we noticed the area lacked good logging contractors. To combat this issue, the conservation district staff has worked with local business owners and entrepreneurs to establish a reliable contractor list.
Creating Local Solutions
With the start of the Pole Hill forest restoration project, Uprooted Artistry was awarded their first big forestry contract. Starting with nothing more than a skid steer, chainsaw, and old truck; owners Tim and Peg Yancey have grown a business specializing in locally sourced wood products. After completing a few smaller jobs, they have been able to hire on 2 new crew members, purchase proper forestry equipment, and boost the local timber market with locally sourced wood.
After Uprooted Artistry completed a job on one of the Pole Hill properties, landowner Dan Koehmstedt saw an opportunity to build a forestry crew of his own. Dan’s past includes experience in engineering, road building, and natural resource management. This experience has led to the creation of Beartooth International and he was able to hit the ground running by procuring equipment and hiring on two additional crew members immediately. Dan has worked hard to complete his first contract with the conservation district and has put himself in an excellent place to succeed by establishing local markets for the forest products that he removed from the project areas.
Keeping Work Close to Home
By keeping work close to home these contractors have been able to keep operating costs low, forest products local, and trust from the communities strong. It has been inspiring and encouraging to see the creation of 2 logging contractors, 6 jobs, and local wood product use come from the 250-acre Pole Hill forestry project. We look for these contractors to continue to boost the local economies and complete forest restoration projects for years to come.”
The Colorado Forest Restoration Institute will conduct pre and post treatment monitoring to evaluate results. Targeted Performance Measures, photos and more about this project can be found in our Watershed Health Outcomes Tracker Project Fact Sheet.