Wilder-Highlands Pine Beetle Response Project
The Wilder-Highlands Mountain Pine Beetle (MBP) Response Project is a holistic, landscape-scale, cooperative forest management project on National Forest System and private lands in the Colorado Rockies. The objective is to mitigate an outbreak of the MBP on dead, dying, and susceptible lodgepole pine stands located in the wildland-urban interface. With swift and effective action, the outbreak can be prevented from becoming a catastrophic disturbance to the forest ecosystem and the essential functions that it provides. To maximize the climate benefits of forests, which serve as critical carbon sinks, we must keep the landscapes intact and manage proactively.
The NFF, together with the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, and local citizens and businesses, is coordinating the 5-year forest health and climate resilience project.
Project partners and contractors will advance sanitation, thinning, and removal of MBP-infected stands in the Wilder-Highlands area near Taylor Canyon, approximately 13 miles north-northeast of Gunnison, Colorado. The treatment will reduce fuel loading and directly influence fire behavior. Adjacent to the ongoing MBP outbreak is 290,000 acres of continuous lodgepole pine dominant stands that are vulnerable to an epidemic.
When complete, the project will:
- Lessen the threat of a MPB epidemic in the Gunnison NF.
- Create defensible space adjacent to private property.
- Increase safety margins for firefighters.
- Reduce the threat of a forest fire and the impacts to the climate, communities, watersheds, and wildlife that it would cause.