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Longmont receives $49K grant for wildfire mitigation equipment

New tools will help the city restore forests and mitigate wildfire risk, officials said.
USED Button Rock (1 of 3)
The city of Longmont owns and manages the Button Rock Preserve in an effort to protect the community’s primary drinking water source, the Ralph Price Reservoir.

Colorado has awarded $49,000 to the city of Longmont for wildfire mitigation and forest restoration equipment, Gov. Jared Polis’ office announced Thursday.

The Colorado State Forest Service provided the funding to the Forest Stewardship Capacity Building Project, which is overseen by the city’s Parks and Natural Resources department. 

“This grant will leverage state funding to purchase several pieces of forestry equipment, including a woodchipper and a rotating log grapple, that will allow staff to more effectively operate in the steep, foothills terrain of the North St. Vrain Creek Watershed,” said Pryce Hadley, the senior watershed ranger assigned to the Button Rock Preserve.

The city of Longmont owns and manages the nature preserve in an effort to protect the community’s primary drinking water source, the Ralph Price Reservoir.

“Part of protecting Ralph Price Reservoir and the North St. Vrain Creek Watershed is engaging in forest stewardship work, including wildfire risk reduction and forest health projects,” Hadley explained. “Longmont has treated approximately 1,200 acres of the 3,000-acre preserve since 2004.”

City staff at the Button Rock Preserve have had to rent forestry equipment, at daily and weekly rates, to complete small and medium-size wildfire risk reduction and forest health projects, he said.

“Maintaining department-owned equipment will allow this type of work to be completed more easily in-house and avoid year-to-year backlogs of maintenance work on defensible space buffers around preserve facilities, fire egress routes and utility sites by facilitating off-season forestry work that would otherwise go undone or need to be contracted out to private companies,” Hadley explained.

The wood chipper and log grapple will be used to follow industry best practices recognized by the Colorado State Forest Service: treating logging debris and removing some wood from forests, he said.

“Over the past 100 years, forest management practices and fire suppression have led to unnaturally dense forests in Colorado that support extreme fire behavior,” he explained.

The decades-old practices have also negatively impacted wildlife habitats, Hadley said.

“By preserving groups and clumps of older trees, maintaining meadow complexes, reducing the spread of pests like mistletoe and pine beetle, and restoring forestland to a more natural density of trees, we can help to mitigate the risk of wildfire to our drinking water source while improving wildlife habitat,” he explained.

The Colorado State Forest Service awarded more than $2 million to fire mitigation and forest health projects in Boulder County. The grants went to the Boulder Watershed Collective, Boulder Mountain Fire, the city of Longmont, Boulder County Wildfire Partners, the Boulder Valley Conservation District and the city of Boulder.

Amber Fisher

About the Author: Amber Fisher

I'm thrilled to be an assistant editor with the Longmont Leader after spending the past decade reporting for news outlets across North America. When I'm not writing, you can find me snowboarding, reading fiction and running (poorly).
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