Colorado’s 24.5 million acres of forests cover approximately 37% of the state. They range from low elevation drought tolerant forests like pinyon-juniper to high elevation water loving forests like spruce-fir. The most common forest types in Colorado are spruce-fir, aspen, lodgepole pine, and pinyon-juniper. These diverse forests provide a home for many of Colorado’s native species, and an important refuge for the millions of people live and visit.
Where ever you are in Colorado, whether it’s the capitol building in downtown Denver or the or a remote valley in the San Juans, forests make life possible. The vast majority of Colorado’s water passes through forests. These forests help clean water and reduce loss from evaporation. Forests help cool our communities and provide an important break from busy urban life. Most of our biodiversity can be found in Colorado’s forests at some point in their life cycle. Each year 10's of millions tourist visit Colorado creating jobs and fueling local economies. For many of these visitors, a trip to Colorado’s scenic forests is the high point of their trip. Forests make life in Colorado possible but they require our continued care and protection.
The future of Colorado’s forests is far from certain. Across the state, most of our forests are experiencing the impacts of climate change. Almost all our conifer forests are battling or recovering from large scale bark beetle outbreaks. Aspen stands are in decline after prolonged drought and high temperatures. Throughout Colorado, wildfires are increasing in both size and frequency. Many of these fires are made possible or more severe by climate change. The future of our forests depend on preventing climate change and continuing to protect our forests.