Clear Creek Ranger District Forest Health Projects

At one time Rocky Mountain forests were maintained naturally with frequent fires. In the absence of natural fire, forests have grown more uniformly dense. Trees compete with one another for space, sunlight, water and nutrients; they are stunted and susceptible to insect and disease outbreaks.

For more information take a look at this printable flyer.

The Forest Service is working to restore healthy forest ecosystems. The list below includes projects and areas that either have been implemented or are expected to be implemented in the near future.

Projects (NEPA decisions): The project area and proposed actions that are analyzed through the National Environmental Policy Act process and public involvement.

· Echo Hills Fuels Reduction Project 2016 - including National Forest System Lands adjacent to County Road #470 (Sinton Road) and Colorado Highway 103 extending to the Echo Hills Subdivision.

· Blue Creek Bighorn Sheep Project 2015 - including National Forest System Lands along State Highway 40 northwest of Empire, CO.

· Mad Creek Project Decision 2009  - including National Forest System Lands located ½ mile northwest of the town of Empire, between Lion Creek and Mad Creek.

· Evergreen TSI Project Decision 2008 - including National Forest System Lands near the Cub Creek and Maxwell Falls Trailheads, south of the Brook Forest Area, and north of Black Widow Drive and South Warhawk Road systems.

· Yankee Hill Project Decision 2007 - the entire Yankee Hill area, including National Forest System lands within the Clear Creek watershed located north of Interstate 70 and west of Colorado State Highway 40 between Idaho Springs and Berthoud Falls and extending north and west to the southern boundary of the Lump Gulch Geographic Area.

· Evergreen Project Decision 2004 - including the interface between private property and National Forest System lands southwest of Evergreen, CO.

Task Orders: The smaller implementation areas of the project decision. Sometimes one task order may include projects that were part of two different NEPA decisions.

Blue Hills Task Order: (June, 2018) – Work is complete for stand improvement activities, such as tree thinning to reduce tree density and improve overall health and condition of stands. The first project area was located in Echo Hills on the northwest end of Sinton Road in Evergreen, Colo. The Blue Creek portion of this task order is located along Highway 40 in Empire, Colo. This project removed undesirable or excess trees to establish space for leave trees to grow and develop, reduce incidence of insect and diseases, and undesirable tree qualities. Contractors conducted manual tree thinning by chainsaw, piling of slash, and lop and scatter. The project also targeted removal of ladder fuels to reduce risk of crown fires. To lower fire risk and modify fire behavior, existing and created slash will undergo treatment. The activities are part of two NEPA projects: Echo Hills and Blue Creek. Work will begin under winter conditions to burn piled fuels.

BBC Task Order: (Sept. 2016) – Work is complete for the fuels reductions and Bighorn Sheep Habitat Enhancement Projects located west of Empire, Colorado. The project was aimed at reducing fuels and improving wildlife habitat, particularly for bighorn sheep. The project worked to address tree encroachment into natural openings to improve decrease visual obstruction for bighorn sheep and improve forage quality and quantity on the bighorn sheep range. Reducing hazardous fuels and improving forest health was done through thinning, stimulation of aspen growth, and cutting down pockets of dead trees. Remaining pile burning will begin under winter conditions.