How does the Forest Service define a healthy forest?

“A healthy forest has the capacity across the landscape for renewal, for recovery from a wide range of disturbances, and for retention of its ecological resiliency….”Your National Forests Magazine, Winter/Spring 2018


Drought has been with us 16 out of the last 18 years in Colorado. Lack of moisture has been stressful to our trees. The Mountain Pine Beetle has taken advantage of these stressed trees, and the beetles have ravaged our forests, killing millions of Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pines.


As we drive through the mountains, we see the aftermath of the beetle-killed trees. The Forest Service is working diligently to cut these trees down and remove them. You may notice large swaths of land cleared of trees. Re-planting is also in the works: The National Forest Service is committed “to plant 50 million trees in the next seven years”.

Thinning is also helpful in strengthening our forests. This allows more sunlight into the forest floor and eliminates weaker trees that may be more susceptible to insect damage.

According to the Dillon Ranger District Recreation Guide, “in the aftermath of this outbreak a healthy understory and new views of the forest are emerging.” Most of the forests were a single species and of the same age. Diversity is imperative to combat such total forest losses. As a homeowner, you can make a difference by treating and removing infected trees and re-planting with a variety of tree species.


I recommend talking with a certified arborist in your area to determine what trees to plant. Depending on the elevation, exposure, and soils, a Linden Tree may fare better in Boulder than in Beaver Creek and Aspens thrive in the mountains more so than in Stapleton.

Mike Earl from Old Growth Tree Service recently worked on our 2.25 acres in Cordillera – thinning, pruning, and removing trees and stumps. The result is a healthier forest and a safer one. Rick Herwehe with A Cut Above Forestry walked our property and recommended trees, shrubs, grasses and native flowers that do well at 9300’ elevation. Having an expert is invaluable for investing in the right trees and shrubs.

Mike Earl
ISA Certified Arborist

Rick Herwehe
Ceres Landcare