A multi-year project supported by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in southwest Colorado aims to improve wildlife habitat, reduce fuel loads and improve landscape resiliency.
The Baldy Mountain project will reduce fuels between Montrose and Telluride on up to 6,106 acres of forestland managed by the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests’ Ouray Ranger District and the Bureau of Land Management Uncompahgre Field Office
“This decision allows us to conduct much-needed treatment in dead, dying and overgrown stands at a more landscape scale, including areas within the wildland urban interface,” said Ouray District Ranger Dana Gardunio. “This will enhance forest health and wildlife habitat as well as maintain fuel breaks important for public and firefighter safety.”
Mechanical treatment implementation is scheduled to begin this summer on the north end of the project area. Treatments will provide quality summer elk habitat and prepare the area for future prescribed fire. The focus will shift to improvement of bighorn sheep habitat and fuels reductions in the wildland urban interface as treatments transition to the south end. The earliest prescribed burning would occur is 2023.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service plans to contribute approximately $130,000 toward implementation this year. This includes grants from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The project has been closely coordinated with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Mullin’s Ranch, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Ouray County, Colorado State Forest Service, West Region Wildfire Council, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and private landowners.
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(Photo credit: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests)