March 16, 2009. A group of professionals from the USFS, Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and CSU Extension joined members from the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) and the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute (CFRI) to discuss and implement an ecological monitoring plan to be used by the WPHFI. Contributing to the group were Bob Ayotte and Ed Biery (USFS), Dave Root (CSFS), Mark Platten (CSU Extension), Theresa Springer and Matt Matwijec (CUSP), and Jessica Clement and Mica Keralis (CFRI). A planning meeting was held on Monday at the Manitou Experimental Forest Headquarters with the goal of discussing and agreeing to the ecological monitoring protocols and plan. The main objectives of the protocols and plan are to measure the fire risk and to evaluate to overall health of the forest within the WPHFI boundary. The meeting went very well and the group was able to agree to the draft plan.
Beginning on Tuesday, March 17, a group of motivated individuals got together and initiated the ecological monitoring plan. This group was comprised of Theresa Springer & Matt Matwijec (CSUP), Kendal Hovel (Science Dept, Woodland Park High School), Bob Sturtevant, Amanda Bucknam & Amanda Morrison (CSFS), and Mica Keralis (CFRI). The group spent the rest of the week traversing the 236 acres of terrain at the USFS Long John West site, collecting valuable pre-treatment information on the fuel loading, forest stand structure and forest health of the site. The pre-treatment information will be compared with post-treatment information collected at the same points. The information collected will be used to evaluate the effects of fire mitigation through fuels reduction treatments and the overall forest health within the WPHFI boundary.
Overall the week was a huge success for all parties involved but especially for the community of Woodland Park. The WPHFI has kicked off a long term ecological monitoring plan that can be executed by Woodland Park community members to help in the long-term monitoring of their forests.