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Black Ridge Fire - Southern Ute Indian Reservation

Year Planted: 1996
Trees Planted: 63,983
Location: Colorado

The Black Ridge wildfire of 1993 began after a mid-day bolt of dry lightning started a conflagration that blazed through 1,000 acres of LaPlata County, Colorado, searing forestland through much of Southern Ute Indian Reservation. For the Southern Ute Tribe, the Black Ridge fire meant substantial losses in natural resources, as residents of the Reservation used the forest to hunt big game, gather firewood and ceremonial boughs, and pinion pine nuts, an important traditional food. In 1996, a Global ReLeaf grant, funded in part by Eddie Bauer, helped set 590 acres of Reservation forestland on the path to recovery. With American Forests' assistance, the Southern Ute Tribal Council and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (B.I.A.) were able to plant 64,000 pinion pine trees, which Tribal Members hope will be used and enjoyed by future generations. A decade later, according to B.I.A. officials, the fires ecological impacts can still be felt. However, Black Ridge is starting to recoup. While oak and other species have recovered naturally, planting of this Global ReLeaf forest was essential to pine recovery. Although drought has hindered tree survival and growth, reforestation efforts facilitated natural pine regeneration in the future.


This project was supported by our corporate partner, the Alcoa Foundation.

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