Under the Sikes Act, the Service provides natural resource personnel on Department of Defence lands. This includes managing their lands for healthy forests and ecosystems. The Forest Health Program at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs is an important conservation effort designed to identify wildland fuel concerns, implement restoration and determine the status, changes, and trends in indicators of forest condition on an annual basis. The program uses data from field surveys, and other biotic and abiotic data sources and develops management and on the ground approaches to address forest health issues that affect the sustainability of the forest ecosystem on the U.S. Air Force Academy. The forested lands on the Academy are managed through a partnership involving state, federal, and academic organizations.
• Detection Monitoring –field surveys to evaluate status and change in condition of forest ecosystems;
• The Air Force Academy staff is leading the way in restoration efforts following the Waldo Canyon Fire, which burned 147 acres in the southwest corner of the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA). Staff have surveyed the burn area and has compiled a forestry contract to remove potentially hazardous burned trees, chip piles of pruned limbs to prevent beetle infestation, and continue fuel mitigation efforts.
• Bark Beetle Surveys and Management - Field surveys are ongoing to locate infested brood trees. When beetle infestations are found, trees are immediately cut and debarked and branches chipped to annihilate developing insects. Ips and twig beetle populations pose an increasing issue due to continued extreme drought conditions. Aggressive management to locate and treat infested trees has been critical in limiting insect spread and tree mortality.
• Analysis and Reporting - Synthesis of information from various data sources within and external to the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) to produce issue-driven reports on status and change in forest health at National, Regional, and State levels.
Researchers collecting baseline data on West Monument Creek tributary
Upper Monument Creek Landscape Restoration Initiative and LANDFIRE program. Natural Resource staff participate in multiagency efforts to develop biophysical descriptions and assess disturbance regimes for the Upper Monument Creek planning area. LANDFIRE and the Vegetative Dynamics Development Tool (VDDT) are being utilized to determine the landscape composition and structure under a historic fire regime, which will then be applied as a measure of departure between the current and historical landscape. This objective of this landscape modeling is to providing a scientific framework for the Upper Monument Creek Landscape Restoration planning process.