Around the Region 2017

Campsite with tentIncreasing Visitor Safety, U.S. Forest Service Mitigates Hazard in Amphitheater Campground  

Submitted by State and Private Forestry, Bob Carnes, Program Assistant,; (303) 275-5739

The Rocky Mountain State and Private and Tribal Relations staff has announced the completion of root mitigation work, enhancing visitor safety in one of the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forests’ most popular campgrounds.

Good, rapid response by the U.S. Forest Service after finding Annosus Root Rot disease failures in the Amphitheater Campground near Ouray, Colorado has increased the safety of the public using the campsites.  Designed for single-family use in this forested landscape, this scenic campground is located at an elevation of 8,400 feet overlooking Ouray, Colorado.

Acting quickly, Todd Gardiner, Silviculturist and Forest CFLRP Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, formed a project team to mitigate the hazard caused by the root rot.  This root disease can be prevalent in many conifers and grows through the heartwood into the roots and causes decay in the root system.  This makes the diseased trees subject to breakage and blowdown. 

Rotten tree trunk that was taken down for safetyThis project included cutting 46 live White fir trees to mitigate the hazard of green tree failures due to root disease.  In addition, all stumps were treated with Cellu-Treat® immediately after cutting.  Cellu-Treat® liquid solution is used as a preventative treatment and for remedial treatment of infested wood.  Some of the cut trees showed obvious signs of disease with rot in the stem.  For the others, one cannot be sure that the rot is not already advancing through the roots.

Gudy Gaskill - “Mother of the Colorado Trail” honored

Gudy Gaskill - “Mother of the Colorado Trail”On March 20th, the Colorado Legislature honored Gudy Gaskill, “mother of the Colorado Trail”, with a proclamation signed by Governor Hickenlooper that was read aloud in the House and Senate. The proclamation declared March 20, 2017 as Gudrun “Gudy” Gaskill Day. 

Gudy was a truly remarkable woman whose vision, perseverance, organizational skills, and positive spirit drove her to overcome many obstacles to create a trail connecting two corners of the State of Colorado from Denver to Durango. The 376 mile long trail is almost exclusively on National Forest System land- an intentional location by Gudy. The strength of the partnership with the Forest Service is frequently cited by the Colorado Trail Foundation, the organization she started and led to care for the trail. A slide show tribute to Gudy was displayed on the screens while senators and representatives spoke to their personal experiences enjoying outdoor recreation on the Colorado Trail. Present at the Capitol to receive the proclamation were Gaskill family members, volunteers, The Colorado Trail Foundation, and the U.S. Forest Service

It’s a Wrap

Energetic and enthusiastic Forest Service employees, volunteers and partners wrap up another great winter on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests

More than *1800 students representing 28 schools experienced the “thrill of the chill” while learning outdoor skills and discovering the secrets of winter survival! Elementary students (mostly fourth graders) chaperones and teachers experienced hands-on learning including identifying animal tracks in the snow, animal adaptations, “reading” layers in snow pits, measuring snow-water content, and even hanging out in a snow cave. Additionally, they donned skis (or snowshoes) to learn how to winter-navigate and travel across the Grand Mesa on snow-a new and unique opportunity for many of these kids and adults! One young Hispanic student, after falling down on skis more times than we could count stated, “This was the best field trip I ever went on!” Two grandparents serving as chaperones commented, “We wouldn’t miss this field trip because we always wanted to snowshoe on the Mesa, but couldn’t afford the equipment.”  

The GMUG has developed successful partnerships and grants to help sponsor transportation, provide outdoor equipment and staffing to make this a highly successful program and one that is unique to winter youth engagement. 

*Not all 1800 students went on the field trips. Classroom programs set the stage for those who were able to go on the Field Day and provided exposure and learning to those students/schools that were not able to attend.

Fostering Resilient Landscapes and Community Connections in Valledupar, Colombia

Rocky Mountain Region employee, Dana Coelho,Mountain Region employee, Dana Coelho. was part of a USFS International Programs technical assistance team delivering a restoration and reforestation workshop in Valledupar, Colombia last week. Attendees were there representing the city, non-profit organizations, universities, and indigenous communities. Targeted at building capacity to implement their Urban Forest Management Plan and larger watershed restoration goals, the workshop covered collaboration, planning, and project management skills. Examples of restoration projects from Rocky Mountain and Intermountain Region landscapes and communities provided relatable details for workshop participants. (Image left)

Youth discover nature, science and culture through mobile app

The PSICC has joined forces with partners to create an electronic game for students that is played outdoors. Discovery Agents is a Move to Play & Learn mobile game with the goal of motivating youth to discover nature, science and culture. The Pueblo Mission site creates “challenges” that integrate key ecology concepts into experiences along the Arkansas River. The app is a joint project of the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State University-Pueblo, as well as local middle and high school STEM academies and “GO Pueblo”. More forests/grasslands in R2 will be launching the mobile app in the near future. 

Connecting with Tribal Communities

Dan Svingen, District Ranger, Ft. Pierre NG, NGNF and Susan Johnson, Regional Tribal Relations Program Manager participated in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)  tribal college student conference providing a student workshop and staffing a Forest Service outreach station, March 18-21, 2017.  The FS provided Agency outreach materials and information on the Pathways and Resource Assistance programs. Nearly 100 individuals stopped by seeking information about the Agency. The tribal students were eager and positive about working in natural resources upon graduation from college.

Testimony by Deputy Regional Forester’s 

March 7, Deputy Regional Forester Maribeth Gustafson testified before Colorado’s Joint House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources and Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee; and in January, Deputy Regional Forester Jacque Buchanan testified before Wyoming’s Joint Committee on Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources. In both states, we were joined by federal, state, and industry partners. Testimony highlights the work we do across the states of Colorado and Wyoming.

Women science in

On March 7, 2017, 15-20 women on the Black Hills National Forest participated and provided support as volunteers, speakers (forestry, botany, GIS, wildlife, range, engineering, archaeology) and exhibitors at the 12th annual Women in Science Conference at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSMT).

This was the largest conference since it began with 786 young women in grades 6-12, from 17 middle and high schools, attending. The focus was to provide an introduction to a variety of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

Partnership continues to thrive 

Over the next five years, Denver Water, the U.S. Forest Service - Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado State Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service will invest $33 million in forest restoration projects to treat more than 40,000 acres within Denver Water’s critical watersheds under the From Forests to Faucets* partnership, the U.S. Forest Service – Rocky Mountain Region has been working with Denver Water since 2010 to implement forest and watershed health projects. The goal is to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and restore forests impacted by wildfires surrounding reservoirs, as well as minimize erosion and sedimentation in reservoirs. Under the 2017-2021 program, Denver Water will invest $16.5 million in forest and watershed health projects within Denver Water’s critical watersheds. The U.S. Forest Service will receive $11.5 million of the total Denver Water investment. The CSFS will receive $3 million and the NRCS will receive $2 million. Each entity will also match Denver Water’s funding, for a total of $33 million.

*The From Forests to Faucets partnership began in 2010 as a response to the costly impacts from a series of wildfires, including the 1996 Buffalo Creek and 2002 Hayman wildfires, which required expenditures exceeding $27.7 million for restoration and repairs to Denver Water’s collection system.

Celebrating Black History

On February 28, the Rocky Mountain Region Civil Rights Service Center and African American Special Emphasis Program Manager hosted a training program to celebrate Black History month.  Ron Cubit, Ed.D, a Job Corps Academic Program Specialist, discussed his recently completed memoir, “School of Life’s Education: The Fools Hill Dilemma.”  During his presentation, Dr. Cubit shared with participants his experiences as a disadvantaged youth and how that led to his education achievements and employment pursuits.  His memoirs highlight his adventures and personal experiences as an African American male in the outdoors.  54 FS employees participated (virtually and in-person) in the training program.  

Fish Fossil Discovery on Comanche National Grassland

In February 2017 a series of large fossil fish vertebrae** were discovered in a drainage on the Comanche National Grassland.  The vertebrae were loose on a steep slope, eroding from within geologic chalk layers of the Greenhorn Limestone, a series of marine beds that formed in a shallow seaway that covered the mid-continent of North America about 94 million years ago (during the Cretaceous Period). 

Paleontologist Bruce Schumacher and seasonal employee Kevin Lindahl unearthed and collected the specimen in a “plaster jacket”.  The fossil specimen will be on public display at the Comanche Grassland office in La Junta, Colorado. Ultimately the fossil will go to permanent research collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

It’s Draft Week In Denver! 

(aka seasonal hiring) Region 2 hosted a centralized seasonal fire hire event in their Regional Office the week of  February 21.  A core team in Denver led a coordinated review of 1,600 job applications.  The review was done virtually by fire subject matter experts on Forest units.  Each Forest then sent a pair of staff (one District Ranger and one Fire Manager) to Denver for “draft” week.  During the week, approximately 220 job offers were made and accepted.  This is Region 2’s second year with centralized seasonal fire hire and this year had a heavy emphasis on virtual work and being paperless. 

The Regional Forester’s Honor Awards Ceremony was held on Wednesday, February 8th at the Baldoria Event Center in Lakewood, Colorado. The categories and winners were:

Sustaining Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands –achievements in creating and maintaining resilient landscapes. - Akron Mine and Mill Site Reclamation Project – Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests

Delivering Benefits to the Public – Strengthening communities and connecting people to the outdoors, and ensuring forests and grasslands deliver values, uses, products, and services that people want and need. - San Juan National Forest

Innovation – developing efficient and effective business practices that ensure financial accountability. - Versatower, Regional Office, and Chief Information Office.

Excel as a High-Performing Agency – demonstrating effective and measurable contributions toward making the Forest Service an employer of choice and creating a fair, diverse, inclusive, and effective workplace. - Boxelder Job Corps Center

Emerging Leader – superior service to their unit and community, and displaying exceptional productivity, collaboration, and innovation in leadership. - Thad Berrett – Bighorn National Forest   AND Evan Burks – Pike and San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands.

Ranger District of the Year – demonstrating an integrated team approach to management excellence through extraordinary accomplishments in caring for the land and serving people. - Wind River Ranger District, Shoshone National Forest

Special Olympics visits the Bighorn National Forest.

On February 3, 2017, 60 athletes competed in Special Olympics winter games at the Meadowlark Ski Area on the Powder River Ranger District of the Bighorn National Forest. Competitive events include snowshoeing and Nordic and downhill skiing. Employees from across the forest conduct the opening and closing ceremonies, groom the race courses, serve as timekeepers and judges, and with Smokey Bear’s help, conduct the awards ceremony. The Powder River Ranger District has hosted the Special Olympics for over 12 years.

“tune-in” with the new Black Hills NF App.

The official Black Hills National Forest has released a new that app provides essential information about the forest including recreational activities and sites, wildfire, alerts, maps, news, events, directions and contact information. Plan and prepare your visit to the Forest with the many great tools and features such as “Things to Know”, “Things to See”, “Things to Do” and “Near Me”. “This app will enhance the users experience while enjoying the beauty and charm of the Black Hills National Forest. The app is compatible with iOS mobile devices (iPhone and iPad) and is available for download from the App Store: An Android version of the app is scheduled to be released soon

Job seekers encouraged to call-in with questions about seasonal hiring 

The Rocky Mountain Region in Golden, CO sponsored a virtual hiring toll-free call Wednesday, Dec. 21, from 11 a.m. to noon for job seekers interested in working for the U.S. Forest Service during the 2017 field season. Over 900 temporary positions are available for the 2017 field season throughout national forests and grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. During the toll-free call, recruiters introduced job seekers to the U.S. Forest Service, provide information regarding available jobs, the application process and answered job seekers' questions.

Families in Forest Contest

GMUG welcomed families with children under the age of 18 to join in the annual “Families in the Forest” contest as part of Outdoor Heritage days. Families are required to complete two activities on the Grand Mesa National Forest and write a short summary of their experience. The contest is designed to encourage kids and their families to try something new outdoors. With their stickers and a short written summary of their experiences, their contest forms are entered into a drawing for some great prizes- including a one night stay in a Forest Service cabin.

Bessey Nursery supplements traditional field growing techniques with greenhouses.

Bessey Nursery, the oldest operating nursery in the country is located on the Nebraska NFs and NGs in the unique Sandhill region of Nebraska. It’s an area of wind-blown sand dunes stabilized by grass, overlaying the thickest part of the High Plains Aquifer, a huge underwater reservoir that extends to Texas. Nursery plant stock includes hardwood and evergreen trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants. Plant stock is used to reforest areas affected by fires, insects, disease, and climate change. The Nursery supplements traditional field growing techniques with growing plants in the stable environment of a greenhouse.

Thanks to our Engineers for providing site survey data, design specifications and drawings, contract administration and operational and maintenance support for the greenhouses.


Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grassland (MBRTB) complete two Aquatic Organism Passage’s (AOP’s) improving watershed health and cutting costs using only in-house resources. Forest Service resource specialists, engineers and the construction and maintenance (C&M) crew work closely together to design, construct, and install the AOPs at significant savings as compared to forests without in-house resources. These projects take less than 10 working days with an average crew size of 4 to complete. Using in-house design and force account, the MBRTB can design and install twice the structures for less than half the money while investing in resource protection, employee development, and public safety. 

Over the years through site studies and policy change the Forest Service standards for stream crossings have improved. Benefits of an AOP structure include safe passage of aquatic organisms, continuity of the stream channel, and flood resiliency.

A heartfelt thank you to volunteers on the Pike and San Isabel NFs and Comanche and Cimarron NGs who contributed more than 13, 157 hours equal to $640,000 worth of work. During summer 2016, volunteers helped accomplish critical work on the Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts. Volunteers hauled rocks, moved dirt, lugged signs, pounded posts, surveyed species, reported concerns, helped build bridges, and many other project tasks. “We are continually amazed by the energy and enthusiasm that volunteers bring to U.S. Forest Service programs while accomplishing mission critical work,” said Ben Lara, Salida District Recreation Program Manager.

These impressive volunteer efforts come from both individuals and groups of local volunteers and "out-of-staters" who visit and want to give back and help out on public lands. Three large out-of-state Boy Scout troops helped on projects in the Upper Arkansas Valley.

Festival Ecologico Navideno/Latino Christmas Eco Festival - The Forest Service joined partners Americas for Conservation + the Arts and Una Mano Amiga, una Esperanza in a celebration of Christmas and Mother Earth on December 14 in Denver. This event was part of a larger effort to build the next generation of conservation stewards by connecting youth from all backgrounds to their environment. The night included music, dance, food, and a special appearance by Woodsy Owl to share tips on greening the holidays.  

5th graders take snowshoe trip on the forest. On Dec. 15, staff from the Yampa Ranger District, Routt National Forest, led a snowshoeing field trip with two 5th grade classes from Routt County Elementary. The group hiked the 1.5-mile Aspen Flats Loop on Dunckley Pass. Along the way, they made interpretive stops to learn about aspen trees, wildlife in the area, and safety/survival topics.

The Akron Mine and Mill Site reclamation project is a successful project that improved water quality and strengthened ties with the community of Whitepine, CO. The Site is an abandoned mine and ore processing facility located in the historic Tomichi Mining District. Mining was prosperous from 1885 to 1893 and produced about $6.6 million in commodities.

The removal action on the Site was planned as two phases: the South Tailings Pile and the North Waste Rock /Tailings Pile.  Tailings pile reclamation included moving the waste material away from Tomichi Creek, regrading the slopes of the material to provide long-term stability, encapsulation of the waste material, and the restoration of Tomichi Creek channel and floodplain. The overall cost of the studies, designs and removal activities was $2.4 million.

Four stream miles restored, greenback cutthroat trout re-introduced to native habitat. The “threatened” greenback cutthroat trout is one of the rarest trout in North America.  Genetic studies completed in 2012 found that the sole remaining population of pure greenback was restricted to a 5-mile section of Bear Creek on the Pike NF.  Working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Trout Unlimited, the Forest completed chemical treatment and removal of non-native trout in a 4-mile section of Rock Creek in the Lost Creek Wilderness.  This treatment paved the way for the re- introduction of 600 fingerling and 3,500 young-of-the-year greenback cutthroat, establishing what is anticipated to be the first self-sustaining population of greenback in its native range (the South Platte River Drainage).

The project successfully launched recovery efforts to reestablish greenback cutthroat to its native range, while also restoring important wilderness character for the Lost Creek Wilderness.  Working together with key partners will ensure the future success of our recovery efforts and the conservation of Colorado’s State Fish—the greenback cutthroat.

Take the train to get your tree - For three weekends this month and next, visitors can take the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Christmas tree train through San Juan National Forest. The forest has identified an area of small white fir trees adjacent to the tracks needing hazardous fuel reduction. By cutting small white fir trees growing in the understory, passengers will help reduce wildfire danger along the railroad corridor. The nonprofit San Juan Mountains Association will be on board the trains to sell National Forest Christmas tree permits, which passengers will use to tag their tree. Hand saws will be provided. Volunteers with SJMA and Firewise of Southwest Colorado will join train staff to assist passengers in selecting and safely cutting their trees. Trees will be loaded onto a special boxcar for the return ride home. After cutting their trees, passengers can warm up by the fireplace and enjoy a hot beverage or walk to the footbridge over Animas River.

Celebrating all the way - The Rocky Mountain Region is honored to be part of the Capitol Christmas tree tour. The 80-foot Engelmann Spruce will make three stops in Colorado as it wends its way to Washington, D.C. The tree will stop in Grand Junction Nov.16, Glenwood Springs Nov.17, and Denver Nov. 18. If you would like more information about these stops, visit the region's website.

San Juan NF participating in international pilot program - San Juan National Forest is participating in the Washington office International Visitors Program pilot program, which has placed five interns from two European universities across the Forest Service. Felix Lange is in his sixth week with the forest’s Headwaters Timber Zone. Lange is a Forestry Fellow from the University of Applied Forest Sciences in Rottenburg, Germany. He has been working with timber sales preparation and reforestation crews under the direction of Tim Leishman, Headwaters Zone pre-sale forester. In addition to learning American forestry practices, Lange is gaining exposure to other land management functions. His internship runs until Jan. 31, 2017.

New partnership gives students hands-on experience - Colorado Mountain College and White River National Forest are unveiling a first-of-its-kind partnership aimed at preparing students to compete for natural resource and ski area management jobs within the Forest Service. Students accepted into the Pathways, Public Service–Land Management program will receive hands-on training in the field with Forest Service mentors while gaining college credit. The program is scheduled to begin in fall 2017. Students will participate in the program for two years, and graduate with experience and a certificate or degree. In addition to receiving a stipend, college credit and field experience, students who complete the program will be able to compete for jobs with the Forest Service and other agencies under a special hiring status.

Something’s fishy on Pike NF - Pike National Forest teamed up with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restore native greenback cutthroat trout to Lost Creek Wilderness. In this multiphase effort, the non-native fish were removed last year from Rock Creek. In July and September 2016, CPW and South Park Ranger District employees reintroduced one-year-old and newly born young native greenback cutthroat trout to the creek with the help of volunteers from Trout Unlimited. The fish did so well during the move that some workers noticed them feeding just 10 minutes after being released. The goal is for these fish to be a self-sustaining population in the wild. The only other places where trout has been reintroduced to the wild are at Zimmerman Lake and Herman Gulch on Arapaho National Forest.

Visitors really dig fossil display - Paleontologist Bruce Schumacher, located remotely at Comanche National Grasslands, and Dominic Cumberland, Washington Office visitor services, represented the Forest Service at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., as part of National Fossil Day celebrations Oct. 15. Their display showcased fossils from National Forest System lands and drew over 400 visitors. The event attracted people from all over the world and was a great opportunity to highlight the importance of fossils and the Forest Service role in managing this resource.

Excellence in interpretation - Brandon Caley received the Rocky Mountain Regional Interpreter of the Year Award and is now competing for the National Gifford Pinchot Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education Award. Caley is a Visitor Information Services Assistant on the Pagosa Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest. He assists the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association at Chimney Rock National Monument and regularly partners with the local library, schools, and Audubon Society chapter to offer programs for young people. The winner will be announced in November at the National Association for Interpretation Workshop in Texas. Caley is a certified interpretive guide and a member of the National Association for Interpretation.

Inspiring women - The Rocky Mountain Region is proud to announce the 2016 Inspiring Women’s Award winners. The award was established to honor womens’ contributions and commitment in the Forest Service. It recognizes outstanding women whose work and service inspire others in the workplace or community. This award was open to all women in Forest Service units representing regions 2, 3, 5 and 6; Northern and Southern research stations; Northeastern Area, State, and Private Forestry; Forest Products Laboratory and Albuquerque Service Center. The winners are:

  • Outstanding Mentor/Coach: Melissa Dempsey, hydrologist, Black Hills National Forest, Northern Hills Ranger District
  • Outstanding Outreach/Volunteerism/Partnerships: Karri Cary, hydrologist, Shoshone NationalForest, Wapiti Ranger District
  • Outstanding Administrative Achievement: Twila Morris, executive assistant, Black Hills NationalForest, supervisor’s office
  • Outstanding Leadership Achievement: Martha Williamson, district ranger, Rio Grande NationalForest, Divide Ranger District

A big thank you to our engineers and geologists - After completion of a formal risk assessment and implementation of measures to ensure public safety, Cook Lake Recreation Area has now reopened for public use and enjoyment. In 2014, forest officials closed the area to public visitation after becoming increasingly concerned with the potential for landslide activity on hillsides along the lake and the danger it posed to visitors camping near the lake. Working with the Colorado School of Mines, USFS engineers and geologists surveyed the landslide area, installed monitoring points and state-of-the-art monitoring systems for lake water levels and landslide movement. The USFS team is now working with Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation to design and complete a $1.2 million rehabilitation of the Cook Lake Dam structure. A beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors, Cook Lake Recreation Area is nestled in the Bearlodge Mountains of Black Hills National Forest near Devils Tower National Monument in northeast Wyoming.

Restoration continues on the historic Interlaken Hotel and resort complex - On Sept. 24, students from Denver University School of Engineering visited San Isabel National Forest, Leadville Ranger District, in Lake County, Colorado. They hiked to the historic Interlaken Hotel and resort complex with San Isabel zone archaeologist Cat Kamke and Leadville RD hydrological technician Nick Gerick. The students worked side-by-side with Forest Service and Colorado Preservation Inc. employees to conduct structural assessments on three buildings. The assessments identified work needed to complete restoration begun more than 10 years ago. The students also evaluated how to mitigate snow damage to the outside of the hotel building and stabilize it until a comprehensive management strategy is developed.

Improving wildlife habitat and protecting a marshy meadow - In 2010 the decision was made to close this route (based on the Environmental Impact Statement and Travel Management Plan) thus improving wildlife habitat and protecting the marshy meadow from resource damage caused by OHVs and full-size vehicles. A sign, closing the route, was installed and subsequently vandalized and removed. Resource damage has resulted in increased erosion and changed and reduced the natural flow of water, resulting in dead plants and reduced forage and habitat for wildlife. The "worm" fence is designed to keep OHVs and full-size vehicles out of the area and allowing the meadow to heal. Colorado Parks & Wildlife and the USFS will be monitoring this closure during the upcoming 2016 CO Big Game Rifle Seasons. 

Gunnison NF maintains approximately 2,900 miles of trail: 1,847 miles that are designated as open routes for motorized use and about 1,068 miles designated as non-motorized routes, which includes Wilderness.

2 men standing in front of a fenceMatt Vasquez (Gunnison RD Wildlife Biologist) and Mike Fuller (Law Enforcement Officer) complete a "Worm" fence at the end of FSR 563.1A (Carbon Creek) to keep OHVs and full-size vehicles off a closed route.

More PLT facilitators are in Colorado - Community Forestry program and Colorado State Forest Service co-hosted a Project Learning Tree facilitator training. This workshop, and others like it, serve to build the state’s cadre of environmental educators, bringing science-based curriculum into a range of classroom and community settings.

Project Learning Tree is a program of the American Forest Foundation using trees and forests as windows to the world. PLT is designed to increase students’ understanding of the environment and empower them with knowledge and actions they can take to conserve it. The program serves to build both environmental literacy among the next generation of environmental stewards as well as professional networks for teachers and natural resource professionals.

National Public Lands Day event brings students closer to nature - On Saturday, Sept. 24, Rocky Mountain Region Urban & Community Forestry program supported a National Public Lands Day event at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge with partners from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Americans for Conservation and the Arts, and the Flores Foundation. The event included a BioBlitz/biodiversity nature walk, native seed collection, Zumba dancing, distribution of Every Kid in a Park passes, and creating postcards to Mother Earth with local artist and curator of the Gráfico Movil project, Arturo Garcia.

Hahns Peak Lookout Saved! On Saturday, Sept. 24, Routt National Forest and Historic Routt County hosted a celebration event highlighting the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, National Public Lands Day, and the restoration of Hahns Peak Lookout (listed on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places – 2014, Colorado Inc.).

Hahns Peak is no longer on the Most Endangered Places list. Numerous partners and years of hard work transformed Hahns Peak from a deteriorating Lookout to a year-round destination for back-country enthusiasts. The celebration showcased the Lookout and partners and included a guided hike and picnic at Steamboat Lake State Park Visitor Center.

National Public Lands Day brings together volunteers across our forests and grasslands - Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland participated in three National Public Lands Day events this past weekend. Sulphur Ranger District participated once again in the longest-running NPLD event in the country. The event had over 100 participants, with 16 people working on Forest Service trail and bridge work. Canyon Lakes Ranger District hosted two events. Poudre Wilderness Volunteers had 33 people working on flood-damaged Young Gulch Trail, finalizing work on 9/10 of a mile of new trail. Wildland Restoration Volunteers held a two-day event with 30 people, spreading native seed and straw mulch to establish native vegetation on a recently obliterated route as part of watershed restoration efforts for Greenback Cutthroat Trout and Boreal Toads.

Black Hills NF honored with 2016 Accessibility Accomplishment Award. Chief Tidwell has signed certificates recognizing the national award recipients for their outstanding commitment, support, and accomplishments in providing recreation opportunities to people of all ages and abilities. Black Hills National Forest was honored for its Unit Accessibility Accomplishments! National Honor award recipients include BHNF civil engineer Paul Bosworth, as well as BHNF North and South Engi­neering Teams! Way to go Black Hills and everyone else working in support of universal access!

On August 31, the Bighorn National Forest hosted the 22nd meeting of the Forest Plan Steering Committee. The Committee, formed in 2000 when the Bighorn began forest plan revision, is comprised of representatives of State of Wyoming agencies, county commissions, conservation districts, and the Governor’s office. It continues to provide valuable local input to the forest’s leadership team on projects and issues that affect local communities and provides a forum to discuss how well or how poorly forest plan implementation is occurring. Committee meetings – one office meeting and one field trip per year – are open to the public. Forty-five people participated in this year’s field trip. 

12th Annual Experience the Outdoors Day for Adults with Special Needs Held on Wednesday, September 7. The Black Hills National Forest and its campground concessionaire, Forest Recreation Management, Inc. (FRM) held their 12th annual Experience the Outdoors (ETO) day at Horsethief Lake Campground, west of Mount Rushmore on Hwy. 244. 

Approximately 250 adults with special needs attended the event that highlights outdoor opportunities available throughout the Black Hills National Forest. Activities included: horse-drawn wagon rides, making smores, face painting, gold panning, hiking on accessible trails, fishing, learning about reptiles and other wildlife, cowboy music sing-a-long, mule petting, hands-on learning activities, and games. 

Additional partners: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Rocky Mountain Research Station, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and individual volunteers.

Memorial service recognizes losses in Twisp Fire - Last year, a South Metro Fire crew from Denver was closely involved with the Twisp Fire. One of their engines was instrumental in taking care of Forest Service employees. On Aug. 19, South Metro Fire honored the one-year anniversary of this tragic event by dedicating three bricks at the Twisp River Fire Memorial to 31-year-old Richard Wheeler, 26-year-old Andrew Zajac, and 20-year-old Tom Zbyszewski at their headquarters memorial service. Representing the Forest Service at the memorial were Curtis Heaton, R2 director of Fire, Safety and Aviation, Ian Morgan and Will Briggs. The memorial service demonstrated the strong bonds formed in the fire service. 

Smokey and Woodsy go to college - Smokey and Woodsy were present August 20 to meet and greet new Regis University students during orientation week. Woodsy and Smokey were great ambassadors for national forests and grasslands as well as encouraging students to #GoPlay.

Yellowstone cutthroat trout reintroduced after stream habitat improved -
Prior to restoring the Buckskin Ed Creek Stream Crossing, the trail was eroding and there were large amounts of sediment flowing into the creek. The trail crossing was a shallow, over-widened channel with poor aquatic habitat and poor water quality. The Engineering and Aquatics staffs on the Bighorn National Forest completed a channel survey and prepared designs for channel work and
a bridge to improve the project. Upon completion, the project restored the natural channel geometry, significantly reduced sediment inflow and created an uninterrupted stream habitat for all aquatic organisms. Water quality and habitat conditions were improved so much that, in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Wyoming Fish & Game, the forest successfully reintroduced Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Box Elder Job Corps (JC) Students feed and care for firefighters at the Hayden Pass Fire, Westcliffe, CO  –Job Corps students from the Boxelder JC Center in South Dakota are supporting wildfire operations in two very important areas. The first is keeping the Type 3 fire camp clean, livable and operational. The other is culinary arts; preparing and serving breakfast, sack lunches and dinner for about 150 firefighters and overhead. The Boxelder Center has its own mobile fire support kitchen. The mentoring staff and students take enormous pride in the food they prepare and that pride is well-founded. The response from camp personnel was unanimous praise for the quality of food and the service. Boxelder JC Crew Leaders Chuck Steinberg, (JC 20 years) Rae Rowell (4 years) and Erik Simonyak (2 years) say their biggest payoff is seeing “the light go on” when kids who have been aimless underachievers discover the pride that comes from a job well done and start mentoring and encouraging each other. For the entire story visit

The Cement Ridge fire lookout tower located on the SD/WY border in the Northern Hills celebrates 75 years of service this year. - The original Cement Ridge Fire Lookout was built between 1911 and 1913. At that time it was a one-room log cabin with a shingle roof. In 1921, a crow’s nest with a glassed-in house was constructed. A new lookout was built by the Civilian Conservations Corps and finished in 1941. This is the tower that you see today. Since 2009, Barb Peterson has been staffing the tower. Listen to Peterson's overview of what it's like being a fire lookout
(podcast transcript available at:…/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd512172.pdf)

Read more at:…

Repeat after me, “Only you…”  Smokey Bear rocks during his crowd-pleasing appearance July 17 in the 69th Annual Buffalo BBQ Parade in Grand Lake, Colorado. The Sulphur Ranger District on the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests provided the means for Smokey to share his iconic message “Only you!” and while reminding people of current fire restrictions. Fire restrictions went into effect two days before the parade.

District employees get together to remove barbwire to improve wildlife habitat - On July 21, 2016, employees from the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest held their second district work day to remove unneeded barbwire fence from around a former private land inholding that the Forest Service had acquired some time ago. Since 2015, over two miles of barbwire have been removed to improve wildlife habitat in this popular area near Crown Point Road south of the Poudre Canyon.

Smokey visits 9News Denver - On July 14, 2016 Smokey Bear and Lawrence Lujan visited the 9News studio in Denver to share tips on putting out your campfire. Remember: Dirt, Water, Stir – repeat!

Three high school students in the Apprenticeship in Science and Engineering Program (ASE) hosted by the GMUG

Students spent six weeks shadowing resource specialists on various field projects while developing a project aligned with their resource interests. One student reviewed and provided input on wildlife monitoring data collected as part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. Another student developed a plan to use “Citizen Science” to fight weeds on the GMUG while the third student used videography to document the ASE program and provided insight on how the Forest can engage this younger demographic in the forest planning process. This is the fifth year of the ASE program on the GMUG, involving approximately 20 students and 5 teacher mentors. Several of the students received college scholarship as a result of their work through the program.

Air Force Academy Cadets majoring in Engineering design and build Wilderness foot bridge - Approximately 12 Air Force Academy Cadets majoring in Engineering arrived on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District to begin the last phase of construction for a foot bridge located in the Maroon Bels-Snowmass Wilderness. The Cadets spent the year designing the bridge as part of their civil engineering class, then submitted the design to the Forest for review and implementation. The partnership with the Air Force Academy was forged last year as a way to give real-world learning experience to the Cadets and to get much-needed work done on the ground. The Forest hopes to continue this partnership in the future. 

Annual Weed Pull as part of the Hunter Smuggler Cooperative Agreement
Thirty volunteers from diverse organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley met up in the Hunter Creek area near Aspen, CO for the annual weed pull. This project is just a small part of the ambitious Hunter-Smuggler Cooperative Plan — a long-term restoration project that is focused on a swath of 4,681 acres of White River National Forest land immediately northeast of the city of Aspen. Through a multi-year NEPA process, forest managers evaluated what needed to be done in the local watershed and created a toolbox of restoration projects for the 20-year stewardship plan. This is a “cooperative” plan because of the local conservation, recreation and environmental groups that contributed their expertise. Each organization is coming to the table with a specific niche to help execute this plan, whether that be trail building to add sustainable recreational value, wildlife and vegetation monitoring, or actions that keep the forest healthy like prescribed burning– all have played a vital role landscape-level forest planning and restoration. 

Trees, People, and Towns Conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Region - Region 2 Urban & Community Forestry hosted the Trees, People, and Towns conference at Lied Lodge, Nebraska this week in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and state forestry agencies in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Seventy community foresters and local tree board members gathered to network and build their technical skills in tree planting and long-term care, sustainable program management, and community engagement. This event is focused on capacity building in small communities across the Great Plains. 

Fire conditions prompt preparedness level 3 in Rocky Mountain area - As of noon on July 11, the Rocky Mountain Area Interagency Coordination Center, which encompasses Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, has moved from a Preparedness Level 2 to a Preparedness Level 3. Preparedness levels are based on current and forecast weather conditions, fire activity, and resource availability. Fire danger in the Rocky Mountain area is high due to winds, temperatures and drying fuel conditions, and is expected to remain the same or increase. The seven-day fire potential outlook indicates a moderate or high risk for significant fire activity across the geographic area. In addition, ongoing and emerging fire incidents are requiring a major commitment of the area’s firefighting resources. Preparedness levels range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest level.

Learning to do business with the Forest Service - The San Juan National Forest and Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center will offer a free course for small business owners interested in working with the government July 21 from 1–4 p.m. at the San Juan Public Lands Center in Durango. The first two hours will focus on “Marketing to the Government,” providing step-by-step guidance for navigating local, state and federal websites to locate potential outside partners, subcontract opportunities and new markets with government agencies. The course instructor will demonstrate how to use websites, such as dynamic small business search and the Federal Procurement Data Systems Next Generation, to search for state pricing agreements, business opportunities and government contracts. The last hour will feature the presentation “How to Work with the U.S. Forest Service.” Topics covered will include updates on regulations, contracts, the ordering and payment process, and types of services needed to support crews.

Annual Sheep Day scheduled - The annual Sheep Day outing will take place Aug. 2 on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. Participants will take a trip back in history and enjoy a visit with sheep ranchers in a genuine sheep camp in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. Participants will learn about grazing on public lands and sheep ranching from experts. High country sheep ranchers also invite participants to stop at “Open Camp” to see the sheep, guard dogs and herd dogs; feel lamb’s wool; and talk with members of a ranching family. Participants will also be able to visit a sheepherder’s tent to learn about their lives, a lifestyle which has changed very little in more than a century.

GMUG’s Uncompahgre Collaborative Forest Restoration Project (CFLRP) group hosted a very successful campout and 2-day field trip to tour project accomplishments from last year and project work planned for this fiscal year. The Uncompahgre CFLRP is in its 7th year of implementation and work planned for FY16 includes: 1700 acres of stewardship contracting for 21,000 CCF of timber; 1,000 acres of mechanical treatment of fuels; 3,000-4,000 acres of prescribed burning; 800 acres of noxious weed control and 100 miles of trail maintenance/improvement.

Black Hills NF - June 13 – June 22, the National Guard is working with the Black Hills National Forest on several engineering projects as part of their Golden Coyote training (. (More on Golden Coyote training National guard crews are hauling firewood, hauling and placing large rocks, and removing and rehabbing a trailhead on the Black Hills National Forest.

San Juan NF is pleased to host five interns this summer sponsored by the Greening Youth Foundation, a nonprofit which nurtures environmental stewardship among underserved youth and young adults by exposing them to conservation careers. The interns include three tribal members - from the Potawatomi Tribe of Kansas, White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona, and the Navajo Tribe.

More than 4,500 Celebrated 9th Annual National Get Outdoors Day and National Park Service Centennial in Denver to celebrate the 9th annual National Get Outdoors Day. The free event featured fishing, rock wall climbing, dancing, biking, paddling, live music and much more. Rocky Mountain PBS’ Nature Cat and Denver Broncos Cheerleaders were also there to sign autographs and help celebrate. The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008, and has grown every year. The US Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition led a nationwide effort to inspire the public to get outdoors. On average, more than 171 official National Get Outdoors Day sites across the nation welcome 48,000 new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors. National Get Outdoors Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! campaign, which encourages the pubic, and especially youth, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. For more information on the Denver event, please visit: Information on national GO Day efforts can be found here:

Jim Bedwell, Director of RLM & currently Acting Deputy Director for the Rocky Mountain Region received this year’s American Recreation Coalition Legends Award. Each year ARC recognizes one individual from each major recreation-related federal agency during Great Outdoors Week, held in June in Washington, D.C. The awards are presented to recognize extraordinary individual efforts that have expanded and enhanced recreational opportunities, connecting people – especially children – and the outdoors, through public/private partnerships, or have increased participation in outdoor recreation and links to the outdoors through innovative programs based upon public/private partnerships. Congratulations Jim!

Another Successful Collaboration - On May 14, the White River National Forest successfully treated 900 acres on the Hunter Creek Prescribed Fire, on lands adjacent to the city of Aspen. Smoke columns were visible from downtown, but 911 dispatch received only a handful of calls thanks to the outreach and education efforts of the Aspen Ranger District and partners. The project was part of the Hunter Smuggler Cooperative Plan: the product of the collaborative efforts of land management agencies, government, and special interests in the community working together to improve wildlife habitat, forest health and recreation across jurisdictional boundaries. Partners in the project included the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Pitkin County, the City of Aspen, Aspen Fire and Wilderness Workshop. Video:

Eastern Kansas completes first Forest Legacy Project - On April 30th, Kansas celebrated the completion of its first Forest Legacy project in eastern Kansas.  This project added 253 acres of biologically diverse upland and riparian forests to the Baldwin Woods Preserve bringing the total area protected to 456 acres.   The Preserve is part of the University of Kansas Field Station and will be managed by the Kansas Biological Survey in partnership with the Kansas Forest Service as a research forest.  Funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund - the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program is a national voluntary program that protects working forests that provide public benefits.  For more information visit:

group of people standing in front of restored stablesCollaboration between HistoriCorps and Commanche National Grassland Helps Preserve Rourke Ranch National Historic District for Future Generations - In late April, the Comanche National Grassland collaborated with HistoriCorps to rebuild and stabilize two structures at Rourke Ranch National Historic District, Comanche National Grassland, Colorado. Last summer, strong winds blew the roof off a storage building and another structure, a log stable with adobe daub, required stabilization. Despite some very challenging weather (rain, snow, and hail), HistoriCorps with the help of 20+ volunteers replaced the storage building roof, completed adobe stabilization in the stables, and repaired several wooden corrals and gates. This project made a substantial contribution to preserving Rourke Ranch for future generations.

Established in 1871, Rourke Ranch was a 100-year-old cattle and horse ranch that persisted through three generations. The original settlement was 40 acres and when the family finally sold the ranch in 1971, the holdings had grown to over 50,000 acres. Rourke Ranch was known as one of the most successful business and ranches in the southwest. The architecture and workmanship of the buildings mostly adobe and jacal styles is one of the many reasons the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
HistoriCorps is a nonprofit organization that provides volunteers, students and veterans of all skill levels with a hands-on experience preserving historic structures on public lands across America.

*This project celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, Preservation 50, and Colorado’s Archaeological and Historical Preservation Month (May). HistoriCorps is a nonprofit organization that provides volunteers, students and veterans of all skill levels with a hands-on experience preserving historic structures on public lands across America.

Congratulations Mary! Mary Bollinger, Canyon Lakes Ranger District Visitor Information Specialist, was nominated by Visit Fort Collins staff as one of the Colorado Tourism Office’s 2016 Outstanding Frontline Workers during National Travel and Tourism Week. Mary was invited by 9News to talk about the Roosevelt National Forest and was also recognized by Colorado State Representative Joann Ginal for her outstanding work helping Colorado visitors.

2015 National Forest Fire Management Officer of the Year Award -Todd Pechota (Fire Management Officer, Black Hills National Forest) received the 2015 National Forest Fire Management Officer of the Year award. “(Todd) applies his vision, technical knowledge, command presence, and genuine care for others to advance the organization in a positive direction,” said Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien. On receiving the award, Todd said he is “very honored to receive this award, however, are the award has little to do with me. It's about the support of my wife, the line officers who support our programs, and the folks who make our program what it is.”

Wyoming Celebrates State Arbor Day - On April 25, employees from the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest attended a special public observance of Wyoming’s 128th State Arbor Day on the south lawn of the State Supreme Court building in Cheyenne, WY.  Governor Matt Mead presented an award to the state 4th and 5th grade Arbor Day Poster Contest winner.  Seedling oak and pine trees were handed out to all attendees and a Bur Oak was planted in honor of the day’s activities. 

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Partners with Shoshone National Forest to Improve Forest Health and Elk Habitat- The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation committed $365,000 toward a multi-year aspen and forest restoration project on Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest. “It’s a big win for elk on the Shoshone National Forest because it’s a key migration route in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. And it’s a big win for the overall health of the forest which benefits moose, mule deer, ruffed grouse and many other non-game species that live there too,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “The interagency cooperation to pull this all together has been somewhat rare and exemplary.”

2015 National Forest Fire Management Officer of the Year Award. Todd Pechota (Fire Management Officer, Black Hills National Forest) received the 2015 National Forest Fire Management Officer of the Year award. “(Todd) applies his vision, technical knowledge, command presence, and genuine care for others to advance the organization in a positive direction,” said Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien. On receiving the award, Todd said he is “very honored to receive this award, however, the award has little to do with me. It's about the support of my wife, the line officers who support our programs, and the folks who make our program what it is.”

San Juan National Forest offering Free Ponderosa Pine Seedlings in Honor of Arbor Day. In honor of Arbor Day, the San Juan National Forest is offering native ponderosa pine seedlings free to the public on a first come-first serve basis Friday, April 22 through Friday, April 29 or as long as supplies last, at its offices in Durango, Dolores, Bayfield and Pagosa Springs. Donations to the Forest’s Plant-a-Tree Program are encouraged to help cover the costs of collecting, storing and growing native trees to reforest burned areas on the San Juan National Forest. Individuals can pick up a maximum of 10 seedlings per person. Seedlings should be kept cool (in the shade or in a refrigerator) and be planted within the next week.  Seedlings come with instructions on how plant and care for the young trees: Instructions for care and planting of your ponderosa pine seedling

wasp on a flowerPollinator fun facts. Pollination is a vital stage in the life cycle of all flowering plants. When pollen is moved within a flower or carried from one flower to another of the same species it leads to fertilization. This transfer of pollen is necessary for healthy and productive native and agricultural ecosystems. (courtesy

  • About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.

  • About 1,000 of all pollinators are vertebrates such as birds, bats, and small mammals.

  • Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees.

Bat Appreciation Day is April 17. Bats are one of the most diverse groups of animals on earth. The Malayan Flying Fox is the largest member of the genus Pteropus, weighing in at more than two pounds. Flying foxes eat pollen, nectar and flowers from coconut and durian trees, as well as mangoes and bananas. This gives them their other name, the Large Fruit Bat, and explains their dependency on thriving, undisturbed forests. 

group of people sitting around tablesWyoming Biomass Conference. A Forest Biomass Conference sponsored by Wyoming State Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Society of American Foresters and the Office of Wyoming Governor Matt Mead was held in Laramie March 29-31 at the University of Wyoming Conference Center. The event was a working conference to gather meaningful information to develop an action plan to help facilitate the expansion of a sustainable forest biomass industry in Wyoming. Panel members included Patrick Holmes , Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary and Jacque Buchanan, Deputy Regional Forester. Conference participants included land management agencies, power companies, forest industry representatives, state and local governments, conservation districts and county commissioners from across the state.

Rocky Mountain Region engages with students K-5 at Rocky Mountain Deaf School. Employees attended a Career Day event at the Rocky Mountain Deaf School (RMDS).  Nearly 25 students participated. The event kicked off with a fire prevention message from Smokey Bear, followed by small group discussions. Students met with FS employees focusing on career awareness, learning about the types of jobs we have and the skill set needed to work these jobs. They also explored their own love of the outdoors. Students enjoyed learning about campfire safety, touching wood samples, giving Smokey Bear a high-five and above all seeing someone who is Deaf, like them, be able to succeed in a career with the FS.

Joint Fire Preparedness Briefing Held for Congressional Offices. Region 2 of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management hosted a joint briefing providing an overview of pre fire season activities/outlook and seasonal preparedness for Congressional offices throughout five states. (CO, KS, NE, SD and WY)  Deputy Regional Forester Jacque Buchanan and Colorado State Director Ruth Welch hosted the VTC/Teleconference covering topics like safety, preparedness, and land management objectives with relation to fire and suppression. 

Take the Santa Fe Trail back to Southeastern Colorado between 1821 and 1880. As a traveler you may have been bringing goods or military supplies to towns along the Trail. Imagine long stretches of rugged trail, your water supply running out, your food rations consisting of only flour, bacon, sugar, and salt.

The Comanche National Grassland is home to over 21 miles of the original Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail. Partnering with the National Park Service, Colorado State Historical Fund and History Colorado, two newly documented segments of the historic Santa Fe Trail Mountain Route are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Parts of the original route are accessible by foot or horseback and marked by limestone posts. For more information: and

group of people standing in front of the Regional OfficeOver 40 Forest Service Employees Join In Colorado to Enhance Their Knowledge of Timber Sale Preparation. On March 8-11, over 40 employees in the forestry profession from Regions 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 the Washington Office, and the Office of General Counsel attended a the inaugural class of Basic Timber Sale Preparation in Golden, Colorado.  Professor Emeritus and Consulting Forester Douglas Piirto from Crestline Forestry led participants through a course focused on the basics of timber sale preparation.  The course implements one of the key recommendations of the Sale Prep Task Force while offering techniques for efficient and effective timber sales, which contribute to increasing the pace and scale of restoration work across the country.

Shoshone NF featured in video game. A new story-based video game “Firewatch” is set on the Shoshone National Forest and features Henry, a middle aged man who spends a summer as a fire lookout for the USFS. "Firewatch" became the best-selling game on the PC game platform Steam soon after its release last month and stayed in the top 10 for a week.

Partnership land acquisition restores public access to the iconic Wilson Peak. The GMUG National Forest acquired 665 acres through a land exchange, providing protected access to Wilson Peak, a 14-ner near Telluride, Colorado. Instrumental in this exchange was the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit conservation group that purchases parcels under threat of development and arranges to transfer them to federal land managers. TPL was also involved in the purchase of 180 acres of mining claims near the Lizard Head Wilderness to secure access to Wilson Peak blocked by a private landowner.  With TPL's assistance, the Forest Service constructed the Rock of Ages trail to restore public access to Wilson Peak, famous for being featured on Coors beer cans.

grassland with with people using drip torches to set a long line of firePrescribed burn on National Grassland helps improve habitat for Mountain Plover. Firefighters on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland successfully burned 900 acres of the Pawnee National Grassland in an effort to improve wildlife habitat, particularly for the Mountain Plover, reduce the risk of wildfire and help reintroduce fire into the ecosystem. (Photo USFS)

Working to form a more perfect union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government (San Juan NF). In honor of Women’s History Month, Kara Chadwick, Forest Supervisor for the San Juan National Forest provided a 30-minute presentation to 35 participants at the Professional Women’s Network monthly meeting in partnership with the Durango Women Resource Center.  She discussed highlights of her 30-year career in public service and natural resource conservation and management in different parts of the country.  She also shared information about the USDA and Forest Service. 

two biologists standing in a meadow while examining an itemWildlife biologists Doreen Sumerlin and Brock McCormick receive Professional Achievement award. Doreen Sumerlin and Brock McCormick of the Arapaho National Forest’s Sulphur Ranger District in Granby, Colo. are recipients of the Jim Olterman Award for Professional Achievement in Wildlife Management from the Colorado Chapter of the Wildlife Society. 

Nominated by their colleagues at the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife, the USFS wildlife biologists worked as a team for many years. Some of their projects include: managing osprey conservation, creating a fishing line recycling program, monitoring boreal toad breeding sites, working with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to pull old fencing, putting on Save the Frogs Day at a local middle schools, and kick starting the Adventure Backpack Program for children. Their collaboration through the years on many innovative projects has had an immensely positive impact on wildlife in Grand County.

Mountain Parks Electric manager receives Wings Across the Americas Award. Bruce Van Bockern, a manager at Mountain Parks Electric Cooperative in Granby, Colo., will be receiving the Wings Across the Americas Bird Conservation Partnership Award for working with Sulphur Ranger District wildlife biologist Doreen Sumerlin to protect nesting ospreys in the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA).

Van Bockern has dedicated his company’s time and resources to protecting ospreys in the area by setting up poles and platforms to entice nesting ospreys away from dangerous powerlines. As a result of efforts such as these, the breeding osprey population around the ANRA has grown from 21 nesting pairs in 1991 to 52 pairs in 2015.The award will be presented March 16 at the North American Natural Resources Conference in Pittsburgh.

group of kids playing in the snowRoutt County elementary students become Junior Snow Rangers. Staff from the Yampatika organization and Yampa Ranger District (Routt National Forest) teamed up to help twenty elementary students obtain theirJunior Snow Ranger Certification in early February. With the goal of facilitating a life-long love of the outdoors, the kids, all third, fourth, and fifth graders in Routt Co., Colo., received lessons on snowflakes, snow temperatures, and snowpack. They also learned about avalanche safety by doing a demonstration that involved sending ice blocks down the slide of their playground into a small forest they created at the bottom. The kids then learned about animal migration and hibernation, created their own animal and presented where it would go for the winter. At the end of the day each child was given a Ranger card, badge, and bandana.

Above: Yampa Ranger District staff Amber Cramer with Routt County elementary students.

750 local youth experience the "thrill of the chill" on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest was awarded a National Park Foundation Transportation Grant as part of the “Every Kid in a Park Initiative” and has brought over 350 fourth graders to our national forest this month  to experience the “thrill of the chill” and learn about winter ecology, winter safety, animal adaptations  and try out  a new sport - cross country skiing. All fourth graders and over 400 sixth graders that participated in the winter ecology program this year have officially become Forest Service Junior Snow Rangers! The successful of this program is the result of a strong partnership between the Forest Service and the Grand Mesa Nordic Council.

3 people in wheelchairs by a ski lift receiving the gold, silver & bronze medal in the paralympicsIPC Alpine World Cup Paralympics held in Aspen. Last week, Forest Supervisor of the White River National Forest, Scott Fitzwilliams handed out gold, silver and bronze medals to podium placers at the IPC Alpine World Cup Finals held in Aspen, CO. The IPC Alpine Skiing competition is for Paralympic athletes who compete in downhill, Super -G, Super combined, Giant Slalom and Slalom races.