Agroforestry on the Western Slope: An inventory and performance evaluation of tree and shrub plantings in western Colorado
(Archuleta, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, San Miguel)
Perennial, carbon-sequestering trees and shrubs can provide multiple ecological, social, and economic benefits. Although long-lived relative to annual plant seedings and transplantations, woody plantings often have higher initial planting and establishment costs. It is important that Colorado growers have relevant and accessible information on the performance of these plantings so that they can invest in the plant material best suited to meet their goals. Some target stakeholder groups are nursery growers producing trees for sale, homeowners buying trees for residential installation, and government agencies funding plantings on public and private land.
The internship project will improve the ability of Colorado State University (CSU) Extension and the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to meet the needs and interests of Western Slope stakeholders by identifying, inventorying, and reporting on the condition of existing tree and shrub plantings in the region. Outdated or hardcopy inventories will exist for some plantings, and the intern will work to update, standardize, and digitize this information to improve its accessibility for stakeholders and recoverability for future research and outreach.
Goals, Scope and Objectives:
The second (concurrent) goal is to evaluate the inventory platforms available to enter and display inventory data, and to select the best suited for the intern to use to conduct the inventories. Most plantings do not have inventory data stored digitally. If records have been kept on the plantings, they are often only accessible as hardcopy documents and notes or in a flat-file electronic database that has limited functionality. The selection of an inventory database will depend on multiple factors, including cost, the familiarity of personnel in charge of managing the plantings, ease of initial use, ease of updating, reporting and output options, and others.
The third goal is to identify potential tree and shrub species that warrant additional, replicative plantings or completely new trial/ demonstration plantings to better assess suitability for the Western Slope.
The fourth goal of the internship is to highlight collaboration between CSU campus faculty, CSU Extension, CSFS, Conservation Districts, and other local community partners. This effort could be expanded statewide. This is beyond the scope of the initial internship but could be rolled into additional work plans.
With which stakeholder group(s) will the intern work?
What student learning outcomes do you anticipate and what are the opportunities for professional development?
The intern will gain experience working with a diverse range of public and private stakeholders and creating appropriate informational materials for target audiences.