Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest


and resilient communities

Supporting healthy forests

and resilient communities


What’s My Wildfire Risk?


The Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest Collaborative (DWRF) is an inclusive collaborative forest and watershed group in southwest Colorado. We share knowledge and resources and develop approaches that enhance ecological and community resilience to wildfire and environmental change. We recognize the many links between social, economic, and ecological wellbeing, and work to enhance our communities’ ability to safely live with fire. Together, we work to:

  • Collaboratively implement forest management and monitoring activities
  • Use the best available science to inform resilient land management actions and community risk reduction
  • Increase the capacity of the local forest products industry and integration with collaborative management
  • Better prepare for, respond to, and aid recovery from wildfire


02aug1:30 pm3:30 pmDWRF Stakeholder's Meeting

Restoring a resilient forest

Did you know that ponderosa pine forests provide critical habitat for wildlife, forage for grazing, wood products, and ample recreation opportunities? Did you know that these forests have been used and managed by people for thousands of years, including the Nuchu (Ute) and 24 other Native American tribes and communities throughout the region?

Ponderosa pine forests are superbly adapted to wildfire. As trees age they gain thick bark that allows them to survive frequent surface fires. These fires create small openings, a good place for young trees to establish, while also leaving groups of living trees.

In the early 1900s, unmanaged and intensive removed many old trees from the landscape. Fire suppression combined with unregulated grazing resulted in forests with fewer grasses and more trees. This increase in tree density puts the forest at risk to insect outbreaks and more severe fire.

To help conserve these forests into the future, DWRF partners work together to remove excess trees and replicate historic forest patterns that were largely maintained by wildfire. Ecologically-focused management approaches to achieve these goals include mechanical treatments (cutting trees) and prescribed fire. Strategic fuel breaks, or strips of land where vegetation has been modified to slow or control a fire, help reduce the risk of fire spreading off forests and into neighborhoods. Communities and homeowners reduce their risk by clearing evacuation routes, creating defensible space, and fire-hardening homes. These actions not only help conserve forests, but also protect lives and infrastructure and support the local recreation and wood products economy.

Forests operate on long time scales and using management to restore ecosystems is a slow and methodical process. By continuing to work together we help ensure our communities can coexist with these forests into the future.

Support DWRF with a hat!

Resilient forests survive and thrive after disturbance. They continue providing wildlife habitat, clean water, and otherĀ  ecosystem services like wood products, recreational opportunities, and subsistence values. Our economies, livelihoods, and senses of place are directly linked to watershed and forest health.

Yet, previous land management practices largely excluded fire from the landscape. Historic logging cleared large swaths of complex old growth forests. The dense stands of young trees that now dominate our ponderosa pine forests are increasingly susceptible to severe wildfire, beetle outbreaks, and drought stress. Climate change is exacerbating drought stress and lengthening the wildfire season. A major bark beetle outbreak within the watershed has been consistently growing over the past five years. Multiple landowners and public land agencies – with varying resources and management approaches – make implementation of broad-scale forest management a significant challenge.

Effectively addressing these realities requires coordinated effort, innovative tools and solutions, and heightened public awareness and engagement.

The Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest Collaborative envisions a watershed that adapts to environmental change and maintains ecological function, ecosystem services, and community values following disturbance. We envision a prepared and active community of residents, land managers, industry, and other groups that utilize holistic approaches to forest management and wildfire protection.