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Button Rock Reserve - Forest Stewardship Project


Button Rock forest


Our resource management program for the Button Rock Dam watershed has consistently focused on preservation of the fragile natural environment. Abundant regeneration of trees and quick suppression of all wildfires within the area has contributed to dense timber stands and thick understory throughout the preserve. With drought conditions in the last several years, many trees have shown the effects of stress, insect infestation and disease with large percentages of timber and brush mortality occurring. This is not unique to the City of Longmont watershed, as regional forest health is experiencing the same dynamics. Efforts to move forward with restoration by improving forest stand densities using selective thinning prescriptions, in conjunction with the natural processes, is occurring throughout the front range of Colorado.



Forest Planning

The City of Longmont contracted with an environmental consultant to assist with the development of a management plan which would insure forest health and watershed protection. The necessary inventories and studies were completed in June 2003. The resulting plan addresses current forest conditions through forest plot research modeling, vegetative inventories, wildfire fuels modeling, wildlife listings according to habitat suitability, and noxious weed management. Based on the plan research, one recommendation is for forest thinning activities.forest showing need for tree thinning

Generally, the forest areas of Button Rock Preserve are dense with Douglas-fir and Ponderosa Pine trees on the north facing slopes with extremely tight foliage canopies. The dry, southern slopes are open meadow land with clumping of Juniper and Pines. The east and west aspects have a blend of dense and open timber stands. The management plan recommendation is to thin the trees throughout the watershed concentrating on disease and insect infestations, and to reduce stand densities. This will create a healthier and less competitive environment for the remaining trees. This will also reduce the potential for a catastrophic wildfire spreading across the treetops.

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Demonstration Area

forest showing tree thinning

A timber stand improvement demonstration area is located on the ridge adjacent to the Button Rock Dam spillway. Here, you can see a sample timber thinning area with differing methods of limb and wood product treatments including limb piling, lop and scatter, and chipping.

demonstration area mapVarying degrees of timber thinning will occur within the watershed according to individual site conditions. Some locations will not be actively managed due to extreme slope and lack of access. Wildlife will continue to thrive throughout the watershed, as mature nesting trees and many areas of thick cover will remain.

Please contact any Ranger at the Preserve or call the Longmont Water Resources Division at 303-651-8376 if you have comments or questions regarding the Button Rock Preserve Forest Stewardship Program. The complete Forest Plan document can be reviewed at the Longmont Public Library or Water Department.


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Contact Us

Public Works & Natural Resources
Water Resources & Environmental Services
1100 S. Sherman St.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone (303) 651-8376
Fax (303)-651-8812
Water Resources|Water Utilities|Public Works & Natural Resources|City of Longmont
This site was updated August 16, 2013
City of Longmont Public Works & Natural resources
Water Resources & Environmental Services