The Colorado State Tree Farm Committee has recognized three Larimer County landowners as its 2021 and 2020 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year.
Members of the committee recognized 2021 awardees John Reading and 2020 Sharon and Dwain Bloyer during a ceremony last month at Flying Moose Ranch in the Cherokee Park area of Larimer County. The 2020 awards ceremony was postponed last year because of the pandemic, so the committee held a ceremony for both years’ recipients this year.
This annual award recognizes Tree Farmers in Colorado who do an exceptional job of forest management on their property and promote the importance of sustainable forestry in the state.
“Landowners in the Colorado Tree Farm Program, like John Reading and Sharon and Dwain Bloyer, exemplify concerned forest stewards that help improve Colorado woodlands,” said Mike Hughes, Forester in the Colorado State Forest Service’s Fort Collins Field Office.
Outlets for Beetle-Killed Wood
Reading is the owner of the 80-acre Flying Moose Ranch. Since purchasing the land about 15 years ago, he has worked over the years to hone his forestry skills and find outlets for the wood he processes into sawlogs, boards, carving logs, firewood, and other products. Reading does most of the work himself, including operating a portable sawmill and often invites his customers to his ranch to participate in the process.
“To drop a tree, limb it, get it to the mill, make lumber out of it, and then use that lumber to create a beautifully finished product gives the customer the full experience of getting it from forest to home,” he said. “It’s a unique experience on a small scale and helps spread the word about local sourcing.”
Mountain pine beetle impacted his forest for several years, leaving dead trees in its wake. Reading’s goal is to remove the standing dead trees and fallen wind throw logs from his land. Processing and selling wood products allow him to do this in a financially sustainable way. By removing beetle-killed trees, Reading is able to mitigate wildfire risk, encourage wildlife to visit his property, improve the aesthetics of the forest and enhance the overall health of the forest.
Recovery After Wildfire
The Bloyers own a 40-acre property where in 2012, more than half of their forested land was severely burned in the High Park Fire. Since then, they have removed trees killed in the wildfire and encouraged a healthy forest to regenerate. New trees have naturally sprouted, and the Bloyers have planted ponderosa pine seedlings grown in the CSFS Seedling Tree Nursery in areas of more intense fire activity.
Despite the impacts of the fire, the Bloyers have fostered a healthy and aesthetically pleasing forest on their land by controlling insects and diseases, reducing the risk of future fires, and enhancing the diversity of tree species. Like Reading, Dwain Bloyer does much of the forestry work himself.
With 30 percent of forestland in Colorado privately owned, the sustainable forest management practiced by Reading and the Bloyers benefits all Coloradans who rely on forests for clean drinking water, places for wildlife to live, carbon sequestration, and more. Reading and the Bloyers operate certified Tree Farms and are participants in the CSFS Forest Ag program.
The Colorado Tree Farmers is a landowner network co-sponsored by the CSFS. The Colorado Tree Farm Program is part of the American Tree Farm System, a program of the American Forest Foundation.