Lesli Allison: Our Changing Forests

by Lesli Allison, Executive Director, Western Landowners Alliance Category:

Louis Bacon‘s Trinchera Blanca Foundation recently hosted a roundtable discussion in southern Colorado about best practices in forest health management with partners and other practitioners in the area. A thought leader in this conversation is Lesli Allison, founding member and Executive Director of the Western Landowners Alliance and the Chama Peak Land Alliance. Through both organizations, Lesli has worked extensively with private landowners and multiple stakeholders to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities.  When I was a young child, my family lived in a cabin in a tiny inholding in the middle of a national forest. It was nestled in the bottom of a narrow canyon, three miles up a rugged two-track road. With the exception of a few generally vacant summer cabins, we had no neighbors. We also had no television, no phone and no radio.  My mother taught school and left early each day. My father stayed at home, trying to write the next great American novel. Because he needed to concentrate, my father tossed me out of the house whenever the weather was fair and I was left... read more +

A fine balance: a healthy forest counters living trees with those dead and dying.


Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities, Healthy Landscapes – Letting Fire Back In

by Tony Cheng, Professor of forestry and director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University Category:

My kids are at an age where they still like to hang out with me. My work as a forestry professor at Colorado State University, where I’m also the director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, takes me out into the woods a lot. I frequently drag my kids along on field trips, where I give presentations to a variety of audiences. Unlike calculus, forestry is a tangible science, where even kids can immediately grasp concepts. On a recent field trip that my son attended, he afterwards said, “Fire is actually good for the forest, right dad?” The simple answer is, “Yes.”  But it’s obviously more complicated. Like anything in the natural world, simple answers belie how complex things really are. Like in virtually every place on the planet, the forests of the Rocky Mountains are facing an uncertain future. Wildfires, large insect outbreaks, and other climate-induced die-offs are changing the complexion of the region’s forests. This has led to a common refrain: we are facing a “forest health crisis.”  But what exactly is a healthy forest?  There... read more +