Northern Water: $500K to prevent forest fires

BERTHOUD — Northern Water will give $500,000 over five years for the Colorado State Forest Service to fund measures aimed at reducing the severity and impacts of future wildfires, the organization said.

“We have always understood the importance of forest health,” Northern Water Environmental Services Director Esther Vincent said via a press release. “As we hear of forecasts calling for additional challenging years ahead, we absolutely want to increase our commitments in this area.”   

Northern Water helps irrigate 615,000 acres a year, providing Colorado-Big Thompson and Windy Gap water to about 1 million people in eight northeastern Colorado counties.

Mitigation measures from the funding will target areas around the Colorado-Big Thompson project and include forest-thinning and mastication — forest mulching or reducing vegetation into small chunks and opening the forest canopy, with remaining trees gaining more access to nutrients, sunlight, and water.

The aim is to reduce the risk of wildfires and make it less expensive to recover from those that occur.

The Colorado State Forest Service in Fort Collins “provides technical forestry assistance, wildfire mitigation, and outreach and education” to property owners and communities, according to its website.