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Crystal Creek Fuels Reduction Project

Pikes Peak Ranger District Fuels Reduction

Crystal Creek Fuels Reduction Project


As part of an ongoing series of projects under the Front Range Long Term Stewardship Contract aimed at the protection of watersheds and public drinking water sources the Pikes Peak Ranger District has initiated a 412 acre fuels reduction project in the area surrounding Crystal Reservoir. The Project’s goals are primarily directed at reducing the fuel loadings surrounding Crystal Creek, North Catamount and South Catamount reservoirs in order to lessen the impacts of catastrophic fires that lead to decreased water quality.

The Crystal Creek Fuels Reduction Project is a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Springs Utilities, and Pikes Peak - America’s Mountain (City of Colorado Springs).

What does fuels reduction do?

  • Fuels reduction removes biomass from the landscape in order to give fire less to burn resulting in cooler temperatures within the wildfires.
  • Cooler wildfire temperatures prevent soil sterilization and allow for the regeneration of grasses, forbs and trees that stabilizes the soil preventing heavy runoff and sediment loadings from affecting drinking water sources.
  • Fuels reduction is also directed at the reducing the amount of closed canopy areas within the forest. This reduces the chance of devastating crown fires taking hold and also helps fire fighters to stop crown fires that are moving through the forest.
  • The Crystal Creek fuels reduction project is vital to the protection of public drinking water sources for the city of Colorado Springs.
  • Previous disasters such as the Waldo Canyon and Haymen Fires that severely impacted Cheeseman and Rampart Reservoirs as well as the South Platte and Fountain Creek Watersheds have made it apparent that protection of water sources is necessary for the public good.

How is the Forest Service accomplishing fuels reduction in the Crystal Creek area?

  • In the Crystal Creek area mechanical thinning is being used to accomplish the tasks at hand.
  • The Crystal Creek project utilizes a combination of Mechanical Timber Harvesting and Mastication to complete all project work in a timely fashion.
  • All of the above mentioned methods are considered low impact and will have little adverse effect on the environment.

What Happens to the Trees after they are cut?

  • Trees that are masticated will be left on site in the form of wood chips that will decay into the ground quickly and will return nutrients to the soil to help the residual trees and future generations grow healthier than the current conditions allow.
  • Trees that are cut using mechanical timber harvesting methods are removed from the site and processed into various timber products.
  • The combination of these two methods of fuels reduction will allow for a more balanced nutrient cycle while at the same time leaving a reduced fuel loading.

For more information regarding this project contact the Pikes Peak Ranger District:

601 South Weber St.

Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Phone: (719) 636-1602 

Or visit the Pike & San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands web site at