Mulching involves the use of heavy equipment to grind, shred, chip, or chop large woody material into smaller pieces. Mulching activities such as chipping and mastication have been relied-upon tools in forest management on the Front Range of Colorado and throughout the United States since the late 1990s. Mulching can be used alone, or in combination with other management activities (e.g. multi-staged understory and overstory vegetation management, timber harvests, prescribed fire, site preparation, etc.).
In the fall of 2014, the Front Range Roundtable identified the need for best management practice guidelines on chipping and mastication on the Colorado Front Range. These guidelines were collaboratively developed by the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute and the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network for and with the Front Range Roundtable. A wide range of professionals contributed their expertise and perspectives to this project.
The purpose of this document is to clarify the benefits and limitations of mulching, and to inform planning of mulching projects in forests and woodlands along the Colorado Front Range.