Rock Bottom Ranch

Since 1975 ACES has completed a dozen river restoration projects as well as the restoration of Hallam Lake in 1989 and Warren Lakes in 2000. In the summer of 2012 we completed significant first steps in the restoration of a declining cottonwood forest at Rock Bottom Ranch.

At Rock Bottom Ranch we found that large areas of cottonwood forest were in declining health, with noticeable die-back of branches in the canopy and few or no saplings on the forest floor. The forest floor was thick with deadfall and non-native vines and grasses, so with machinery we mimicked a flood, clearing out the undergrowth and disturbing the soil. In the spring of 2013 we’ll prepare seed beds for cottonwood seeds, we’ll plant cottonwood cuttings in wet areas, and we’ll actually expose and carefully prune some cottonwood roots to encourage sprouting. Our goal is to propagate the next generation of trees while improving the health of the existing forest.

      

The forest clearing produced a vast amount of deadwood, which once ground provided us with over 200 cubic yards of wood chips. These will be rendered into biochar (carbonized wood, like charcoal), and or mulch, and returned to the forest to hold moisture and nutrients, further contributing to forest health.

For more information, or for a tour of the project area, please contact Tom Cardamone at tcardamone@aspennature.org.