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  The Fraser Experimental Forest
.... was established in 1937 in the heart of the central Rocky Mountains as part of a national network of experimental forests. The network was designed to dedicate land and facilities with a primary purpose of research involving various aspects of forests.  The intent for the Fraser Experimental Forest (FEF) was to study the relationship between forest management and water yield in the subalpine zone. The Rocky Mountain Research Station maintains this 36 square-mile outdoor research laboratory, which is located about 50 air miles from Denver. FEF is an ideal location to study water, forests, and other physical and biological processes, and their integration in high-elevation subalpine watersheds. Today, the primary research addresses questions that deal with water quantity and water quality, and their relationship to forest vegetation and management across a range of scales from the small plot, to the hillslope, and basin. Other contemporary research projects include silviculture, riparian habitats, sediment, invasives, insects, soils, climate, birds, and a number of other pertinent topics.


Long-term research at Fraser continues to build on the data and records collected over the last seven decades. FEF is one of the only research sites in the Rocky Mountains that maintains long-term records on hydrology, climate, forest structure and growth, and responses to forest management. Fraser is unique among these sites in providing catchments that span alpine to lower subalpine ecosystems, with a full suite of site histories and environments (ages, aspects, elevations). Fraser provides the capacity for researchers to do whole-ecosystem manipulations in watersheds that are representative of high-elevation watersheds of southern and central Rockies.


Long-term Monitoring

Long Term Feature Image

The primary research focus for Fraser has been the effect of management practices on water yield and quality. Snow depth and water content are collected on four gauged watersheds, with records dating to 1941 for one watershed...

Research Past and Current

Early research at the FEF was oriented toward timber, water, and sediment production resulting from forest management. Additionally, much research focused on forest species and structure effects on snow distribution, water use and water yield...


Major research accomplishments and impacts on management

Research at Fraser has provided significant advances in our understanding of subalpine forest ecology and hydrology, and many of the silvicultural and hydrological practices used in...


The 23,000 acre Fraser Experimental Forest was established in 1937 as a representative site for conducting studies in the alpine/subalpine environment of the central Rockies. Most early research....