Telluride Library: Update On Regional Forest Health, 8/6!

Dr. Jason Sibold, a research professor at Colorado State University, has been monitoring forest ecology and climate conditions of the Upper San Miguel Watershed since 2015. He will be presenting his findings in the greater context of a changing climate on Tuesday, Aug 6, 6 p.m. in the Program Room at Telluride’s Wilkinson Public Library. The presentation is made possible by Wilkinson Public Library, San Miguel County, Sheep Mountain Alliance, The Pinhead Institute, Town of Telluride, and the San Miguel Watershed Coalition.

Dr. Jason Sibold, a biogeographer who chairs CSU’s Geography Program, worked with his team in 2017 to conduct a GIS Optimization of regional forest conditions. Using existing data from state and federal agencies, they mapped known natural disturbances and ongoing forest change in response to recent warming and droughts (2000-2016) and future forest species migration in response to projected warming and wildfire hazard. The project produced “Forest in Flux,” a series of maps detailing current forest cover and conditions, disturbances, and projected forest cover and species in 2060.

“Forest in Flux” was the result of a year-long collaboration of local officials, conservation groups, land managers, and emergency response experts who all came together in 2016 to take a science-based approach to better understanding forest health conditions in our upper watershed and determine potential opportunities for action. Dr. Sibold is currently receiving support from San Miguel County and the Town of Telluride to monitor local forest health conditions, which is a part of is his ongoing statewide research program.

“The Telluride Region offers a unique research opportunity in Colorado because it has not yet experienced the epidemic Spruce Beetle mortality seen in similar forest types to the north and south. We wanted to get in and establish baseline conditions before beetles or wildfire so we can better understand how forests build resiliency and what conditions are more conducive to regeneration post disturbance,” stated Sibold. “We were asked by local officials to provide site specific research they considered critical to any potential treatments for resiliency or wildfire mitigation to create the best chance for an effective treatment.” 

“We are fortunately to have site-specific research from Dr. Sibold and his team and hope to engage the community to determine the best path forward to protect the resiliency of our forests, while working to mitigate for the very real possibility of fire or epidemic insect or disease,” stated Hilary Cooper, San Miguel County Commissioner.

Local officials and lands mangers will be on hand for a discussion following Dr. Sibold’s presentation.


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