As part of NWTF’s five-year cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office, habitat enhancement work is underway in the NWTF’s Central Rockies Focal Landscape.
This agreement between the NWTF and the Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office began in 2016 and streamlines federal funding on shared forest improvement initiatives, namely those focused on reducing forest fuel loads, including thinning forests and shrublands, erosion reduction, noxious weed control and prescribed fire, in addition to other forest health treatments.
Recently, the partnership, in conjunction with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, funded a mastication project targeted at wildlife habitat and forest health improvements on Bureau of Land Management-administered land near Texas Creek, Colorado.
This project focused on thinning high-density pinon and juniper to promote the growth of existing ponderosa pine trees. Ideal for their rapid growth, ponderosa pines provide substantial root systems that are great for preventing erosion.
The project also included the removal of smaller diameter trees, creating a forest structure that is more resilient to prescribed fire and wildfire alike, improving overall habitat quality and forage availability for deer, elk, bear, mountain lions and wild turkeys, among other game and nongame species.
“The desired end result will be a combination of openings and reserve islands,” said NWTF District Biologist Jamie Nogle. “These openings will allow for the development of grasses and forbs within the understory which are important for wildlife forage and cover, while creating breaks in the continuous canopy to reduce the risk of a crown fire.”
“To date, a total of 720 acres have been treated and four additional projects are planned to be completed before the agreement expires in May 2021. This Bureau of Land Management-NWTF Cooperative Agreement has been important for implementing fuels reduction and wildlife habitat improvement projects on Bureau of Land Management’s lands throughout Colorado.”