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4-H supports Relay for Life on June 22 and 23

Archuleta County 4-H is proud to have a team participating in this year’s Relay for Life.

Scott Strategic Investments has sponsored our team. Any member who joins can pay the $10 and it goes straight to fund-raising.

If you would like to help our team, please stop by the Extension office to donate, or search our team “Archuleta 4-H” online at www.relay.acsevents.org<http://www.relay.acsevents.org>. We have many kids signed up to walk the track or man the booth, where we will be selling glow necklaces, bracelets and tattoos. Come support two great causes at one great event.

Managing the family forest

Did you know?

• One-third of Colorado’s land area is forested, a total of 22 million acres.

• Over 4.1 million acres of Colorado’s forestland are owned by 182,000 family forest owners.

• The forest products industry employs 3.3 percent of Colorado’s manufacturing workforce. The industry provides jobs for over 9,500 Colorado workers.

• The endangered Canada lynx, which was recently reintroduced to Colorado, relies on intact, high elevation forests for its habitat.

• Colorado uses 13.8 billion gallons of fresh water each day. Much of this originates on forest land.

• More than 800,000 people hunt, fish or trap in Colorado each year. This forest-supported activity contributes more than $1 billion to the state’s economy annually.

The term “family forests” refers to forested or wooded property owned by individuals or families. This ownership group is sometimes referred to in research as non-industrial private forest landowners. Family forests account for about 60 percent of the nation’s forested and wooded land, the vast majority of which is in ownerships smaller than 500 acres. The decisions that the nation’s family forest owners make about the care and management of their land have important impacts on wildlife habitat, forest health, water quality, timber supply, carbon sequestration and storage, and countless other natural resource issues.

Family forests face some daunting challenges when it comes to preparing for and managing their private land holdings. Economies of scale on small properties can make the per acre cost of managing insect or disease outbreaks disproportionately high. While they may retain a professional forester in preparing for and administering a timber sale, most family forest owners do not employ a professional to assist with day-to-day monitoring or management of their woods as other industrial owners, public agencies, Indian tribes, and landowners often do.

Monitor your woods

Most of the effects of climate change will manifest first in your woods as forest health problems, as stress from changing conditions weakens trees and reduces their ability to naturally fend off insect and disease threats. You’ll want to watch for signs of stress, new insect and disease outbreaks, and new invasive species, among other things. Careful forest health monitoring and prompt action to deal with emerging forest health threats will help landowners become part of the solution rather than a source of forest health problems for their neighbors.

Here’s what to watch for:

1. Signs of stress. Warming temperatures are likely to stress trees that are adapted to cooler conditions. Depending on how local conditions change, stress may manifest itself differently in different stands. Where conditions are hotter and drier, trees may experience reduced growth, some dieback high in the crown, and early fall leaf color change. Where conditions are wetter, dieback is less likely, but growth will still be reduced. These changes will affect trees of different ages and species differently.

2. Evidence of new insect and disease outbreaks. New outbreaks may have more intense and widespread effects where woodlands are in a stressed condition. If you see evidence of stress, look closely for signs of insect and disease outbreaks. Different insects and diseases are present in different areas, so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the major threats in your area. The first thing you should do is identify the insect or disease that you’re seeing.

3. Invasive plants. New exotic invasive species will further disrupt normal ecosystem function, exacerbating climate-related changes. Many invasive species can thrive under a wide variety of conditions. Some native tree species can only thrive under a relatively narrow range of conditions. Changing climate may displace some natives, creating growing space that will be filled by invasive species.

Frequent monitoring is so important because the earlier you catch most outbreaks, the cheaper they will be to control and the greater your chance of long-term success. The two best sources of help in identifying insects, diseases, and invasive species are your local Colorado State Extension and Colorado State Forest Service offices.

Help trees be resilient

Climate change could bring new types and intensities of extreme events, so management actions to promote resilience include those that improve the capacity to return to desired prior conditions after extreme events or climate-induced disturbances. The widely held assumption, adopted from human health care but relatively untested in natural ecosystems, is that “healthy” species, forests, and ecosystems are more resilient to change. So, preventive treatments aimed at increasing health are prescribed.

Depending on the situation, these prescriptions might include:

• Thinning dry forests that are overly dense.

• Conducting prescribed fires.

• Stocking seed banks.

• Augmenting endangered species’ populations.

Trees are remarkably effective at fending off most native insect and disease threats, but only if they’re healthy. Trees gain energy through their foliage, so making sure your trees have plenty of room to grow (through periodic thinning, strategic firewood cutting, and the like) as developing large crowns will increase their natural resilience. Maintaining a diversity of tree species and ages on your property will also help, as not all trees will respond the same way to changing conditions.

Wildland fires and the threat they pose to our wildland-urban interface is a major concern. The Colorado State Forestry Service (CSFS) has legislative authority for fire management on non-federal lands where wildfires exceed local capacity both in and outside the wildland-urban interface. The forest management advice and assistance the CSFS provides is important in reducing the occurrence and severity of wildfires that may occur in Colorado.

Many of Colorado’s forests are unusually dense, especially our ponderosa pine forests. Proper forest management in the intermix of forests and urban sprawl is necessary to reduce wildfire risk. Many community values are at risk from wildfire, including life, property, watersheds and critical infrastructure.

The Colorado Statewide Forest Resource Assessment indicates 6.8 million acres of forested land in Colorado is outside the desired range of conditions in terms of fire return interval. The significant causes are aggressive suppression of wildfire across the landscape for nearly a century and lack of management treatments that mimic natural processes. Wildfire outside the WUI can have negative consequences, particularly when it occurs in forests that are outside their normal fire return interval.

Summary

Colorado’s forests are at risk from threats that impact their ability to provide environmental, social and economic benefits now and in the future. Because limited resources are available to address these threats, it is imperative that we direct them where they will result in the greatest benefit.

Threats include:

1. Fragmentation of forest landscapes.

2. Decline in businesses that harvest and manufacture forest products.

3. Insect and disease activity in forests at levels unprecedented in Colorado’s recorded history.

4. Wildfire in the wildland-urban interface.

5. Wildfire outside the wildland-urban interface.

6. Community forests at risk to insects and diseases.

7. Impacts of climatic conditions on forest resiliency and adaptability.

8. Watersheds at risk from forest conditions.

9. Decline of riparian ecosystems.

10. Air quality issues associated with forest conditions.

Although there are some daunting challenges associated with managing these threats on a large number of relatively small ownerships, family forest owners also have a great advantage: Passion, ethics, values and commitment to leaving their land in better shape than they found it.

Sustainably managing the 4.1 million acres of family owned forestlands requires a diversity of knowledge, skills and experience of best forestry management practices. It is vital for forest landowners to have the tools they need to keep their forests healthy and productive. It is imperative that we protect our forested lands from insect infestations, disease, wildfire, human impacts, invasive exotics or natural disturbances. Collectively we all depend on family forests to maintain clean water and air, wildlife habitat, recreational activities, and producing the jobs, wood and paper products we all need.

Making connections to other local landowners and professionals is an excellent way to stay abreast of emerging issues and strategies to deal with them locally. Utilize the CSU Extension-Archuleta County, The Colorado State Forestry Service (Durango), San Juan Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service. All of these agencies are good first points of contact. Also look for more information to come regarding a Fall Forestry Forum to be held in Archuleta County, where partnering agencies will work to address many family forest management concerns with demonstrations, lectures and hands-on skill-building activities geared for the family forest owner.

Information provided by the Colorado State Forest Service, American Tree Farm System and Eli Sagor, University of Minnesota-Forest Ecology and Management.

Calendar

June 22 Archuleta County 4-H Relay for Life.

June 23 Archuleta County 4-H Relay for Life.

June 25 4-H Rocketry Project meeting, 3:30 p.m.

June 26 4-H Scrapbooking Project meeting,1:30 p.m.

June 27 4-H Sewing Project meeting,1 p.m.

June 27 4-H Sports fishing Project meeting, 4 p.m.

June 28 4-H Float Building meeting, 9 a.m.

June 28 4-H Sewing Project meeting, 3 p.m.

Check out our webpage at www.archuleta.colostate.edu<http://www.archuleta.colostate.edu/> for calendar events and information.

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