Uncompaghre Plateau - Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program
(UP - CFLRP)

PURPOSE

The Uncompaghre Plateau Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program’s (UP-CFLRP) mission is to enhance resiliency, diversity, and productivity of native ecosystems in National Forest System lands on Colorado’s Uncompahgre Plateau by using collaboration and best-available science.

This program builds on successful partnerships established between CFRI, the U.S. Forest Service, local and county governments, the Uncompahgre Partnership, interest groups, private industry, and others.

CONTEXT

The Uncompahgre Plateau spans five counties on the Western Slope of Colorado and includes key watersheds that feed the Colorado River. The Plateau provides important wildlife habitat and supports many human uses including recreation, timber harvesting, and livestock grazing.

This partnership uses an adaptive management approach that incorporates current ongoing scientific evidence and monitoring results into ongoing management efforts underway to restore a landscape that can support a natural and beneficial fire regime.

OUR INVOLVEMENT

CFRI provides science support as well as monitoring and research expertise. We compile, archive, analyze, and report results addressing ecological impacts and treatment effectiveness to the collaborative, which is crucial to the iterative nature of the adaptive management process.

We guide the objectives, training, and logistics for the Montrose High School Forestry Internship Program (FIP), in which students collect data that measures the effectiveness of forest restoration, pre- and post- treatment for the UP-CFRLP.

We are also examining understory response and Gambel oak regrowth following mechanical treatments in Ponderosa pine – Gambel oak stands on the Uncompaghre Plateau.

METHODS

CFRI uses standard forestry and botanical surveying methods on the Uncompaghre Plateau. The Forest Internship Program uses a Rapid Assessment Approach to collect data on pre- and post-treatment forest structure and composition, fuel composition, and understory response.

RESULTS

Results from several years of ongoing forest restoration monitoring include:

  1. Forest basal area has been reduced, and goals of retaining ponderosa pine and aspen have been achieved.
  2. Active crown fire potential has been reduced, however, woody surface fuels have doubled.
  3. Understory grasses, forbs, and shrubs were reduced slightly 2-years post-treatment, but will likely rebound with time.
  4. Tree regeneration is dominated by aspen and Gambel oak, with some sub-alpine or Douglas-fir regeneration; little ponderosa pine regeneration has occurred.
  5. Spatial heterogeneity of treatment areas has increased, leading to the goals of creating more complexity of forest patches, groups of trees, and small meadows.
Group of people in hard hats
2016 Forest Internship Program crew
IMPACTS
  • CFRI has offered their expertise to the Uncompahgre program since 2010.
  • We have overseen the Forest Internship Program since 2012, and have trained over 20 high school interns with interests in forest ecology and natural resource management.
  • The data collected from this internship program and the results that CFRI has analyzed and reported to the collaborative has been a crucial component of the adaptive management process as forest managers use these results and information to adjust ongoing management.
Pre-treatment photo of a forest stand of pine trees

Photo of a densely forested area prior to forest restoration treatments. Area contains many shade tolerant species which created shaded conditions that inhibit the growth of grass, forb, and shrub species and also create dangerous ladder fuels.

Post-treatment photo of a forest stand

Photo illustrating post-forest restoration treatment conditions, where shade tolerant species have been reduced, ponderosa pine and aspen have been retained, and forest conditions are more open and diverse, creating forest structure conditions that promote understory grass, forb, and shrub diversity.

STAFF:
Marin Chambers
Tony Cheng