We are extremely pleased to announce we have been awarded a $1,000,000 grant to restore forest health and reduce the risk of severe wildfire in the Big Thompson Watershed. The Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) grant program, managed by the Colorado State Forest Service, provides funding for fuels and forest health projects or capacity building projects on non-federal land in Colorado. The program was funded to reduce risk of wildfire, promote forest health, and encourage the use of woody material for traditional forest products and biomass energy.
In total, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) awarded $15 million to 69 applicants from 23 counties across Colorado. Peaks to People was one of only 4 organizations in Larimer County to be awarded this grant. We also received the largest award of any of the 69 applicants.
“With Colorado facing a year-round wildfire season, we must continue to support healthy forest restoration and fire mitigation strategies statewide so that more communities can reduce fire risk. This increased funding in the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation grant program will now be able to reach more areas to promote steps property owners and communities can take to protect infrastructure and help limit future wildfire threats,” said Governor Polis.
Collaboration is the Key to Success
The success of this grant application could not have been possible without our well-established and ongoing collaboration with Big Thompson Initiative partners, Larimer Conservation District (LCD) and Big Thompson Watershed Coalition (BTWC). Together these partners have planned distinct and complementary projects to restore more than 450 acres on private land and create 1-3 mi of roadway fuel breaks. Paired with previous treatments, this project will achieve a landscape-scale footprint of over 3,000 acres.
This collaborative project expands and leverages a 2022 Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) grant awarded to LCD and BTWC for forestry and wildfire mitigation work in the Big Thompson. COSWAP supports fuels reduction efforts in the wildland urban interface (WUI) by strategically awarding funds for landscape scale strategic wildfire mitigation projects. The critical funding provided by FRWRM and COSWAP will enable our organizations to increase the pace and scale of work going on in the watershed.
Protecting Communities from Severe Wildfire
The communities served will include Pole Hill and Waltonia in the Big Thompson Watershed. LCD has been conducting forestry work in the Pole Hill Community since 2017. The overarching goals here are to reduce hazardous fuels, improve stand resilience to future disturbances, maintain old growth characteristics, and restore stands to pre-settlement conditions.
To reduce the risk of wildfire to people, property and infrastructure in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) of Waltonia, BTWC will work with property owners to reduce fuel load in the community. Waltonia is located in a narrow draw between heavily forested, steep canyon walls. This community is at high risk for severe wildfire, treatments are intended to reduce wildfire risk & improve ingress/egress routes for emergency responders. With directly adjacent treatments currently ongoing in Pole Hill, treatments in our project area would accomplish cross-boundary wildfire risk reduction & enhance landscape-scale resiliency.
Boosting Our Local Economy
Local logging contractors will be hired to implement these projects and market the resulting wood products. The project sites contain a wide range of potential wood products including firewood, chips, posts, poles, and millable boles. Restoring the health of our forests, protecting our communities and boosting our local economy is a Win-Win for everyone involved in this exciting work and we are grateful to be a part of it.
“The General Assembly, by nearly doubling the amount of funds available for this program, has shown that improving forest health and reducing the impacts of wildfire to Coloradans is a top priority,” said Matt McCombs, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service. “Increased, sustained investments in the FRWRM program empower individual landowners and communities all over the state to do their part in reducing fire risk, which when combined, helps move all of Colorado forward.”
Thank you to the Colorado State Forest Service and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources for supporting our efforts!