WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
The Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest Collaborative is an inclusive local group that shares knowledge and resources to enhance ecological and community resilience to wildfire and other disturbances. We recognize direct links between social, economic, and ecological conditions, and work to enhance our communities’ ability to safely live with fire. We work in Dolores and Montezuma Counties, CO, particularly focusing on the upper Dolores River watershed.
DWRF partners work to:
- Collaboratively implement forest management activities, including mapping and analyses, policy discussions, direct treatments, and adaptive management.
- Use the best available science to inform community preparedness and land management projects and decisions.
- Increase the capacity of the local forest products industry, and integrate them into forest treatment initiatives that reduce risk and enhance resilience.
- Better prepare for, respond to, and aid recovery from severe wildfire, post-fire effects, and other disturbances.
LIVING IN A RESILIENT WATERSHED
130 years ago, John Wesley Powell considered watersheds to be the ideal political unit. Powell’s vision for the West did not materialize then, but a new watershed-based movement uniting forest health, water security, and local communities is taking shape.
The Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest Collaborative works proactively to improve forest health and reduce fire risk within the 667,000 acre upper Dolores River watershed. The forest, shrub, riparian, and tundra communities that constitute this watershed supports the local forestry, agricultural, and recreation economy. The watershed supplies and filters municipal and irrigation water for over 10,000 individuals and the 350,000 acre-foot McPhee Reservoir helps feed the Colorado River and other downstream communities.
THE PROBLEM AND NEED FOR ACTION
Resilient forests survive and thrive after disturbance. They continue providing wildlife habitat, clean water, and other 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.