NATURALLY RESPONSIBLE™ FOREST MANAGEMENT
Our western forests clean the air of greenhouse gases, purify and regulate water supplies, provide habitats for wildlife and are a recreational haven for millions of people. Properly cared for, these forests are a renewable resource that can be sustained indefinitely. At Saratoga Forest Management, our Naturally Responsible™ program uses revenues from the sustainable use of wood products to support our forests and a healthy environment while providing jobs and benefits to the national economy.
Saratoga Forest Management’s Naturally Responsible™ program is helping support forest management activities in lodgepole pine forests.
Lodgepole Pines grow at elevations between about 8,500 and 10,000 feet and are the predominant species in the Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming forests.
Healthy Lodgpole pine forests depend on fire. Moderate fires thin the stand density and create well-spaced park-like forests. These thinned stands allow each tree sufficient access to the nutrients and water they need to thrive and fight off disease, insect infestations and intermittent droughts.
Shade provided by the tree canopy inhibits new growth, but more intense fires will periodically clear the mature trees. The cones, sealed with a dense pitch, open in the high temperature of the fire and release their seeds. The bare mineral soil and fresh ashes produced by a fire provide an excellent seedbed for lodgepole pine seedlings and the lack of tree canopy after the death of the mature trees, allows the seedling the sunlight needed to quickly regenerate the forest.
In areas where fires suppression is required, the lodgepole pine forest grows more dense which increases competition for nutrients and moisture resulting in smaller trees more susceptible to disease and insect infestations. The dense groves also make it easier for disease, insects and wildfires to spread rapidly after the initial outbreak.
In areas where fire suppression is necessary, harvesting tree stands mimics the natural effects of fire in lodgepole pine forests. By removing mature trees, the cones scattered on the forest floor are exposed to sunlight and open to disperse their seeds and begin the regeneration process. Cutting sections of lodgepole pines, while leaving adjoining sections in place, creates a diversity of tree ages, which is essential to maintaining healthy forests.
After decades of fire suppression, the forest of Colorado and Wyoming are facing unprecedented devastation from insect infestations. More than 6 million acres of Lodgepole Pine and Engelmann Spruce have been destroyed in the past 10 years.
In these areas, clear cutting allows regeneration up to 4 times greater than unmanaged stands and prevents other species from replacing the lodgepole pine.
Selectively clear cutting sections of the forest while leaving adjoining sections standing, creates a mosaic of ages in the Lodgepole pine forests which enables the forest to resist insect infestations and diseases. The green, healthy patches of trees in this picture are previously cut areas that regenerated and were naturally resistant to the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation that killed the surrounding, unmanaged forest.
Creating a patchwork of age diversity within a forest also provides protection from damage caused by massive wildfires. Previously cut areas that are in the process of regenerating typically do not burn, even in large wildfires such at the Rat Creek (WA) fire shown on the right. The green areas were clear cut sections produced prior to the fire and were unaffected by the fire.
Simply thinning trees, on the other hand, has recently been shown to be ineffective in halting the spread of wildfires.
Creating and maintaining a mosaic of differing aged trees in a lodgepole pine forest creates an indefinitely sustainable, rejuvenating ecological system with priceless environmental benefits. In the Rocky Mountains, the cost of this forest management can be more than $3,000 per acre and is often paid for with taxpayer dollars because of the lack of infrastructure necessary to process the forest material.
Saratoga Forest Management is the only organization in the Rocky Mountain/Wyoming region with the resources and infrastructure to manage a substantial number of forested acres annually on a commercially viable basis. In addition, Saratoga Forest Management provides through direct payments to federal, state and municipal agencies, much-needed revenue for those agencies to treat ecosystems devastated by fire, pathogens, or invasive species.