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Agreement establishes shared vision for forestry efforts across Boulder County

For Immediate Release Aug. 13, 2020Media Contact
Vivienne Jannatpour, Boulder County
Parks & Open Space, 303-678-6277
Reid Armstrong, USDA Forest Service, 
970-222-7607

Federal, state, and local governments joined with non-profit entities in Boulder County today to establish a shared vision for reducing the risk of wildfire to its residences, recreation areas, and natural resources through closely coordinated forest management across all lands.

With the signing of the agreement (boco.org/ForestMOU), the USDA Forest Service and Boulder County have identified a shared vision for the future of Boulder County forest management together with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado State Forest Service, City of Longmont, City of Boulder, the communities of Nederland, Gold Hill, and Lyons, the Boulder County Firefighters Association, the Longmont Conservation District, the Boulder Valley Conservation District and Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University.

The agreement sets a vision for Boulder County forest management that includes:

  • Meaningfully and continuously engaging stakeholders located in the forest and downstream;
  • Establishing a regional network of resilient forests better able to absorb and recover from current and future natural disturbances;
  • Collaboratively developing and supporting both wildland and prescribed fire management strategies so that wildfires are safely and effectively extinguished when and where needed and, in the right circumstances, more flexibly managed to reduce future risks;
  • Fostering resilient forest ecosystems that support water quality and quantity needs, habitat for robust and healthy flora and fauna, and abundant recreation opportunities;
  • Actively managing the forest to enhance its health and reduce wildfire risk based on the best available data and contemporary science, including the use of climate science to understand how a changing climate will impacts forests;
  • and, Promoting the personal responsibility of residents who live in high-risk areas to plan and prepare for wildfire.

As part of the effort the Left Hand Watershed Center, the Boulder County Forest Collaborative and the Boulder Watershed Collective will ramp up their efforts with stakeholders, scientists, and the other signatories to refine the shared vision going forward and identify mutual priority actions that meet the vision and goals of the agreement.

Boulder County is ranked among the top 10 most-at-risk areas from wildfire in the USDA Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region. Since 1989, wildfires in the county have claimed 260 homes and structures, burned more than 16,000 acres, and threatened the lives and properties of thousands of mountain residents. While low intensity wildfires are a natural part of a healthy ecosystem, fire suppression over the last 100 years has led to forests in many parts of Boulder County to have vegetation densities 10 to 100 times their natural state, leaving the Boulder County’s residents, recreation areas, and natural resources vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire.

For more information, please visit boco.org/ForestMOU-FAQ.

What the partners are saying about the agreement:

Boulder County recognizes the importance of working together with the U.S. Forest Service, state agencies, towns, cities, and communities to help improve and protect the forested landscapes within our county. Wildfires, forest diseases, and climate change do not honor jurisdictional boundaries, so it is imperative that we work in concert with each other to help mitigate existing stresses and restore the health of our forested lands. The Boulder County Commissioners are pleased to support this agreement in partnership with such a dedicated and expert team of forest managers and partner agencies.

— Commissioner Deb Gardner, Chair, Boulder County Board of County Commissioners

The City of Longmont’s 3,000 acre Button Rock Preserve is located in the forested foothills adjacent to Boulder County, U.S. Forest Service, and private land. The Preserve protects our primary drinking water source, providing water to more than 100,000 residents in Longmont and Lyons. We conduct forestry mitigation annually at the Preserve. Now with this agreement, Longmont recognizes the importance of shared goals and of working across boundaries to mitigate, restore, and protect the St. Vrain watershed and its forested ecosystems from the impacts of catastrophic wildfire.

— Danielle Cassidy Levine, Natural Resources Project Manager, City of Longmont

Boulder County’s forested lands host robust populations of fish and wildlife species dependent upon a healthy forest ecosystem. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is pleased to contribute our expertise to the collaborative forestry efforts in Boulder County, working in partnership to reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfire across a diverse landscape.

— Mark Leslie, Northeast Regional Manager, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

With catastrophic snowfall, wildfire, and flood in little more than a decade, the Gold Hill Community is focused on addressing community resilience, emergency preparedness, and climate adaption/mitigation programs from forest health to renewable energy. The Gold Hill Risk and Adaptation Advisory Report of 2017 outlined multiple recommendations for reducing wildfire risk. This MOU is a vital step in helping Gold Hill work collaboratively to better ensure wildfire protection for our community and the Arapaho lands that we steward.

— Virginia Schultz, Forestry Liaison, Gold Hill

None of us can make a difference alone. The Roosevelt National Forest is entering this agreement with our neighbors and partners across Boulder County because it will take all of us to tackle the challenges of protecting our communities, watersheds, and favorite recreation spots. It will take a strategic approach and coordinated implementation across all lands to make a difference. Signing this agreement with Boulder County and the other signatories is the first step in truly lessening the threat of wildfires that leave long lasting devastation.

— Monte Williams, Forest Supervisor, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests

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