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Jefferson Conservation District & Partners Lead $19M Forest Resilience Initiative

Jefferson Conservation District (JCD) in Colorado, in collaboration with partners, has secured federal grants totaling over $19 million to address forest restoration, wildlife habitat preservation, and wildfire mitigation across the Northern Front Range.

This initiative, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) aims to thin out dense forests on private lands, covering approximately 5,700 acres over the next five years.

The allocation of $6.4 million from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and $13.5 million from NRCS’ Regional Conservation Partnership Program underscores a proactive approach to combat the escalating challenges posed by wildfires in the region. By selectively removing trees, the project seeks to decrease the intensity of future wildfires, benefiting both communities and ecosystems.

Partners engaged in these efforts with JCD include the Larimer Conservation DistrictBoulder Valley & Longmont Conservation DistrictsPlatte Canyon Fire Protection District, Evergreen Fire Protection DistrictBoulder Watershed Collective, and Conifer Wildland Division.

Together, these partners will drive this work forward as they tackle the issue of dense forests, a consequence of historical wildfire suppression, which has exacerbated wildfire management challenges.

The forests of the Northern Front Range have undergone significant changes over the past century due to the suppression of natural wildfires. Prior to human intervention, wildfires occurred periodically, maintaining diverse forest habitats and preventing excessive fuel buildup.

However, with the suppression of these fires, forests have become densely populated with trees, leading to more intense and damaging wildfires, such as the Hayman Fire of 2002 and the Cameron Peak Fire of 2020. The increasing population residing in these forests amplifies the impact of wildfires, affecting not only rural areas but also urban communities along the Front Range corridor.

The JCD’s forestry programs play a crucial role in helping landowners manage their forested lands to mitigate wildfire hazards and restore ecological balance. Looking ahead, JCD aims to expand its capacity by adding two new forestry staff members and expand their acres treated.As leaders on the Front Range, JCD and its partners are committed to promoting conservation practices essential for healthy, well-managed forestlands, in collaboration with active involvement from landowners and the community.

For more information about JCD and their impactful work, please visit their website at www.jeffersoncd.com.

Tags: Forestry, conservation districts, Wildlife, wildfire, Forestry Notes

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