By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) — Colorado’s mountainous landscape will bounce back from the Cameron Peak Fire much quicker than some may expect thanks to Colorado State University. The Colorado State Forestry Service Nursery, located on the foothills campus, already has hundreds of thousands of trees growing which will one day be part of the reforestation process.

(credit: CBS)

The seedlings, which are young trees, began their journey in 2019. Josh Stolz, Nursery Manager, told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the seeds of more than 40 tree species were sown in advance for reforestation purposes. While the nursery staff never hopes the trees will be needed to relinquish lands impacted by natural disasters, they are always preparing for such issues.

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“We never want to see any of our citizens impacted by an event like what we’ve seen in the last couple years,” Stolz said. “We grow these trees specifically for conservation applications.”

The Cameron Peak Fire has burned 102,596 acres since it started on Aug. 13.

Stolz said the seedlings will eventually be purchased from the nursery by both private land owners and organizations. Most who purchase the trees will use them to revitalize property damaged by flooding or fire.

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The Cameron Peak Fire on Aug. 13, 2020 (credit: CBS)

“That’s exactly why we are growing this material,” Stolz said. “You want to get something back in the ground As soon as possible after one of those types of events. Primarily for it to stabilize the soil.”

The university has intentionally chosen to grow the trees in a natural setting using Colorado souls, seeds and more. As the trees age, they are intentionally left in natural outdoor conditions to prepare them to survive the Colorado winters.

“We’ve got upward of 80,000 to 100,000 ready to rock and roll,” Stolz said.

While shrubs, grasses and weeds will likely grow back the quickest and the most abundant, Stolz said the seedlings CSU is growing will help the region gain a jumpstart toward a brighter future. Especially since the trees are already well in to their growing phase.

(credit: CBS)

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“Nature will take care of itself over time,” Stolz said. “Everything else will kind of find its way back to the surface and the sunlight.”

Dillon Thomas