Summit County gets grants for forest projects | SummitDaily.com

Summit County gets grants for forest projects

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily news

Summit County, CO ColoradoSUMMIT COUNTY – The Colorado State Forest Service boosted local forest restoration projects by $176,000 on Tuesday.The two grants – $140,000 for Summit County’s Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project and $36,000 for the Straight Creek Forest Restoration – are part of a $1 million statewide contribution toward 12 projects that protect critical water supplies.The money comes from the Colorado Community Forest Restoration grant program established with the passage of House Bill 1130, which was introduced by Rep. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, in the last legislative session.”I realize that the funding for these projects is just a drop in the bucket in relation to the vast needs to reduce the fire threat from the bark beetle epidemic. However, it does show how the state can come to the table and leverage funding in partnership with local and federal funding to help address this issue,” Gibbs said, adding that he would continue to work with his colleagues in the legislature to expand the program.When the grant money became available in early July, Summit County applied for $200,000 to support its existing grant program, which awards matching money to local HOAs and other property owners for fuel reduction projects, like removing dead trees and thinning forests.The $140,000 it was awarded will add to the pool of money created by the Board of County Commissioners last year that is doled out to local property owners through an annual application process.The Straight Creek Restoration Project, which received 100 percent of the $36,000 the applicants asked for, aims to protect the Straight Creek watershed by clearing out some of the dead and dying lodgepole pines in the forest east of the creek, which flows parallel to Interstate 70 from above the Eisenhower Tunnel into the Blue River.The project will start Sept. 15 on 119 acres of Forest Service land that’s already been through the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, process, and 257 acres of Denver Water Board property, said Katherine Timm with the Colorado State Forest Service.The treatment includes patch cutting in areas most infested with the mountain pine beetle. The applicant, The Greenlands Reserve land trust company, proposes to send the fallen timber to Pueblo to make wood pallets and sawdust for garden mulch. The wood chips will be co-fired with coal at a power plant in Cañon City, Timm said.”So basically what they’re saying is other than bark and slash, all the timber will be fully utilized, which of course we love to hear,” Timm said. The Greenlands Reserve, the Town of Dillon, the Denver Water Board, Summit County, the U.S. Forest Service, the Blue River Watershed Group and J.W. Associates will contribute the required 40 percent match – $9,000 plus $15,000 in in-kind services – for the project, Timm said.The purpose of the state’s grant program is to encourage diverse local stakeholders to work together to develop and implement forest restoration projects that protect critical water supplies and address related forest health challenges such as wildfire risk reduction, community protection, ecological restoration and woody biomass utilization.”Colorado’s forests and watersheds are among our state’s most important resources and we should do all we can to protect them,” said Colorado Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Coal Creek Canyon, a sponsor of HB-1130. Along with the two projects in Summit County, 10 other counties received grants, including Grand, Eagle, Lake and Park counties, out of 46 applicants.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com.