Peaks to People funded projects at key demonstration sites to enhance communication about the connections between forest and watershed health, attract investors, promote water resource protection, and serve as a learning lab to enhance effectiveness of forest management. Each site is located in either the Big Thompson or Cache la Poudre watersheds and is unique in design and function. All operating and certification procedures used to measure ecological benefits and returns on investments have been documented and compiled into our Watershed Investment Tool, which we utilize to understand outcomes and inform future projects.
Ecological Monitoring Report for Peaks to People Water Fund Demonstration Sites
The Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University worked closely with The Colorado Nature Conservancy and other partners to lead monitoring at the demonstration sites to assess how projects aligned with Peaks to People program goals and objectives. Restoration effectiveness monitoring incorporates a comprehensive, multi-scale approach that enhances our understanding of current treatment effects on wildfire behavior and improves future forest management. In this report, we combine field-based measurements of forest and fuel structure, remote sensing techniques, and stand- and landscape-scale fire behavior modeling to measure cumulative ecological effects of forest restoration treatments on fire behavior and watershed health. Additional goals of the monitoring program include peer-to-peer learning and collaboration among forest and fire managers, which will improve future project outcomes.
The analyses of modeled fire behavior suggest that Peaks to People forest restoration treatments enhanced forest resilience to wildfire within most management areas by changing conditions at demonstration sites to support low- to mixed-severity fire regimes.