Cameron Peak Fire Reforestation

Project Description

The Cameron Peak Fire (CPF) burned 208,913 acres across the Big Thompson, Cache la Poudre, and Laramie River Valley, making it the largest fire in Colorado’s recorded history. Fifty-two percent of the burn perimeter was classified as high to moderate severity burn. High severity burns can have lasting impacts on soil health and the rate of revegetation. Natural post-fire revegetation can be impacted if the topsoil, where seeds are stored, is burned away and if the trees in the surrounding area are lost in the fire and can no longer produce new seed. Without trees to produce seed or seed stock in the soil, some areas may never become reforested. This is exacerbated by climate change as some areas may shift to grassland or different forest types due to rising temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, and prolonged drought. To counter this, a group of organizations, including BTWC, is coordinating ponderosa pine reforestation efforts on private lands in severely burned areas. Starting in 2022, BTWC, Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, and Larimer County Conservation Corps planted 3,400 seedlings in the Big T. These efforts continued in the spring of 2023, with 5,000 seedlings planted and will continue into future years with a goal of planting at least 25,000 seedlings across the Big Thompson and Poudre River watersheds.

Fun Fact

Ensuring that we have enough native seed is critical to reforestation efforts. While Ponderosa pines can begin to produce seeds within 7 years and can continue to produce them to at least 350 years, seeds from trees 60-160 years old are more viable than seeds from younger and older trees. Ponderosa pines have a good cone crop every 4-5 years, so its important to monitor which years are good collection years to resupply seed sources!

Project Photos


Seedlings are grown out a local nurseries using regional seed stock or seed sourced at similar elevations where they will be planted.


Seedlings are transported in trays of 100, allowing us to easily bring hundreds of seedlings to planting sites

Volunteer Planting

Volunteers or Conservation Corps crewmembers then plant the seedlings on north facing slopes using “shade objects” like trees or boulders to help reduce moisture loss from sunlight.

Cedar Cove Today

Using mulch around the seedlings or building a small dirt berm on the downhill side of the seedling can also help it to retain moisture and reduce stress as it adjusts to its new home.

Cameron Peak Reforestation

Project Accomplishments

3,400 seedlings planted in 2022

5,000 seedlings planted in 2023 with more to come

Over 100 volunteers engaged in reforestation days by BTWC and partners

Assisted 15+ private landowners whose properties were severely burned

Site selection matrix developed to guide reforestation locations based on long-term site conditions and current need