Across Jeffco Open Space parks in the foothills and mountains of Jefferson County, a mosaic of ponderosa pine savannas, aspen stands, mixed conifer forests, and other woody vegetation provide shade for park visitors and habitat for dozens of native wildlife species. However, these iconic forests are negatively impacted by stressors such as wildfire, habitat fragmentation, pests such as mountain pine beetle, and long-term changes in precipitation. In response, the Natural Resources team plans and implements a range of forest management projects to improve forest health, reduce wildfire risk, enhance wildlife habitat, and maintain aesthetic and ecological values in our forested parks.
Management actions are initially based on forest inventories and surveys, during which forest conditions are comprehensively assessed and both goals and objectives for the project are defined. Management actions are then refined through consultation with stakeholders, state and federal agencies, and technical specialists. Implementation often involves a combination of Natural Resources staff, private-sector contractors, and researchers assisting with long-term monitoring and evaluation.
In 2017, JCOS and Denver Mountain Parks (DMP) jointly received funding from the State Fire Assistance program to implement a forest management and restoration project at Flying J Ranch Park. The project will focus on reducing the density of overgrown mixed conifer stands, promoting aspen stands, and restoring ponderosa pine savanna. The risk of catastrophic wildfire will be reduced, while both visitor safety and wildlife habitat will be enhanced.
In summer and fall 2018, Natural Resources staff conducted baseline forest inventories to identify treatment areas and to develop specific management objectives. Staff began removing trees in October 2018, and the project is scheduled to be completed by Winter 2020. Please click the link below for more information, and check back soon for photos, videos, and project updates.
Partnering Programs and Agencies
- Colorado State Forest Service
- U.S. Forest Service
- Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
- Upper South Platte Partnership
- Denver Mountain Parks