Sunday, August 29, 2010

Forest Service, Denver Water team up to protect watersheds

Robert Allen in the Summit Daily: Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service are tackling forest restoration by splitting a $33 million commitment to treat 38,000 acres of forest land over the next five years. The work is intended to protect critical watersheds against catastrophic wildfires in areas impacted by mountain pine beetle, as well as other tree-killing infestations.

…The finances evenly split between the USFS and Denver Water are to thin dead forests, create firebreaks and address erosion issues, among other efforts. Areas treated are to be include the Blue River watershed as well as forests upstream of Strontia Springs, Gross, Eleven Mile Canyon and Cheesman reservoirs.

Colorado has about 3 million acres of dead trees — amid 17-18 million across the West — because of beetle infestation. Sherman said the problem relates to past fire suppression efforts and climate change. This causes increased risk of wildfire.

Denver Water CEO and manager Jim Lochhead said the finances will “reduce wildfire risks in priority watersheds.” Sherman spoke of past fires in the state causing 10s of millions of dollars in restoration efforts. The agreement announced Saturday is the first significant partnership between a major water provider and the Forest Service….

A winter view of Cheesman Park in Denver, shot by David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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