With wildfires around the state burning forestland and destroying homes, many Coloradans want to know what they can do to help. One way to have a positive impact on affected forests and communities is through the replanting of trees, which is the goal of the donor-driven Restoring Colorado's Forests Fund.
Donations made to the Colorado State Forest Service-administered fund are used to provide seedlings for planting in areas impacted by wildfires, floods or other disasters, with an emphasis on areas critical to water protection, wildlife habitat and public benefit. Every $2 donation to the fund purchases one seedling, at no cost to the landowner. Since the program was established in 2003, program funds have been used to provide more than 122,000 trees.
"When a destructive wildfire hits, the first priority is protecting human life and property," said Mike Lester, state forester and CSFS director. "But for the long-term recovery of our communities and forests, planting trees provides an important means to help stabilize soils, protect water supplies and restore the landscape."
Locations where the fund has been used for replanting efforts in the past decade include the burn scars of the High Park Fire west of Fort Collins; the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs; and the Weber Fire near Durango. The loss of trees and other vegetation in those areas led to significant runoff and erosion - resulting in damaged hillsides, polluted waterways, highway closures and road damage.
This year, the CSFS received a donation to the Restoring Colorado's Forests Fundfrom the Girl Scouts of Colorado, to provide 7,500 seedling trees to be used for reforestation efforts in Colorado. Those and other seedling trees used in the program are grown at the CSFS nursery in Fort Collins, ensuring that only high-quality trees adapted to local conditions are used for restoration efforts.
"We will forever be grateful for the seedlings we received because of the generosity of people giving to the Restoring Colorado's Forests Fund," said Larimer County landowner James Williams, who lost 35 acres of forest to the High Park Fire in 2012 and was able to begin restoration in 2013 with trees provided by the fund.
To make a donation directly to the Restoring Colorado's Forests Fund, visit https://advancing.colostate.edu/RestoringColoradosForests.