Kremmling Field Office improves forest health

The Kremmling Field Office and Colorado State Forest Service recently completed the first of several planned cross-boundary timber projects under the national Good Neighbor Authority, which allows agencies to work across differing ownership and boundary jurisdictions on forest health projects.

Forest with dead and down trees
Because forest insect infestations and disease don't follow jurisdictional boundaries, the Good Neighbor Authority was developed to conduct projects across multiple jurisdictions. (Photo by John Ring)

In November, the field office and state partnered under the Fraser River Canyon Good Neighbor Authority Project to remove beetle-killed trees from 30 acres of public and private forestland between Tabernash and the Winter Park Highlands Subdivision. The work reduced the amount of heavy fuels available for wildfire in the wildland-urban interface, salvaged beetle-killed trees, and facilitated healthy forest regeneration.

“Wildfires and forest disease outbreaks don’t recognize jurisdictional boundaries, and the Good Neighbor Authority allows us to share resources more effectively to achieve landscape-scale impacts,” said BLM Colorado Northwest District Forester Raechel Owens.

Removed beetle trees
Under the Good Neighbor Authority, BLM partnered with the State to remove beetle-killed trees across multi-jurisdictional boundaries. (Photo by John Ring)

In August 2016, the BLM Colorado Northwest District and the CSFS signed a five-year cooperative agreement under the Good Neighbor Authority in Grand County, an area that has been heavily impacted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

Under the Good Neighbor agreement, the CSFS typically handles various aspects of project design and oversees contracts, while the BLM completes environmental analyses as required by the National Environmental Policy Act for each project. The BLM also is contributing $20,000 annually to help remove hazardous trees near differing jurisdictional boundaries.

Kremmling ID Team, foresters, and timber contractors meet
Kremmling Field Office Interdisciplinary Team members meet with foresters from the Colorado State Forest and timber contractors to discuss implementing a Good Neighbor Authority project in Grand County. (Photo by Raechel Owens)

The field office has one active sale under the agreement, and three additional joint projects should be completed this year. In addition, the BLM, CSFS, U.S. Forest Service and public landowners are coming together to collaborate for two upcoming forest health projects across multiple jurisdictional boundaries to create healthy and resilient forests.

The Good Neighbor program was expanded nationally in the 2014 Farm Bill and allows the USFS and BLM to enter into cooperative agreements with states to perform forest, rangeland and watershed restoration projects on federal lands. Although the Good Neighbor Authority now applies nationally, Colorado was the first state to pilot the policy beginning in 2000.

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