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Meet Our Resident Forestry Manager

Words by
Kenneth Taylor
Published on
16 April 2024

James Fischer, Trinchera Ranch’s resident forestry manager

Meet James Fischer, Trinchera Ranch’s resident forestry manager for over 20 years. A man of many talents – from tackling wildfires and rampant beetles to overseeing logging sites and giving public tours – James’ primary focus is on watershed health and implementing best management practices to ensure the forest remains resilient and continues to grow to improve the wildlife habitat and reduce fuels. Here, he dives into his work on Trinchera Ranch.

What drives the forestry program here at Trinchera?

The main driver of the forestry program here at Trinchera is wildlife management and forest health. Without the forest health portion of it, you’re not going to have the wildlife. That’s the main driver in restoring this to a healthier, more vibrant forest for the future. We’re not looking at today, we’re looking at 100 years out and maintaining it so that it’s healthier and more vibrant for everybody.

What are the challenges you face here at Trinchera Ranch with the forest?

I’ve faced many challenges here regarding forestry, starting with the spruce beetle epidemic that we’re dealing with in our high-elevation forest–we’re trying to wipe those out just like the rest of Colorado and the Central Rockies. Another challenge is the Douglas fir bark beetle – a beetle that’s going after Douglas fir specifically.

Also, overall, general forest health is in decline. There are too many trees, and it’s overstocked. If you look at it from a fire standpoint, that creates fuel loading.

Tell us about how drought has played a role in your management.

The drought is the primary driver right now–it has been for the past 25 years. I’ve been dealing with it since I started. And I’ve seen the effects over 20-plus years of being here. We’ve gone from small lightning strike fires to a 14,000-acre fire. So, as the drought has increased, forest health has gone down. Those trees just don’t have enough moisture. They’re stressed, and you’ve got other minor insect and disease issues that can then take off due to drought.

How are you addressing the wildfire challenges here on Trinchera?

I’ve been focusing on doing a lot of mastication fuel reduction along our boundaries in the last five years. Our responsibility is to protect what we have and be a good neighbor. I don’t want to sit back and say, “Well, somebody else should be taking care of it on that side of the fence.” Let’s work on our side and be a really good neighbor. All of the forest treatments are reducing that fuel loading, reducing the impact of that fire. Is it going to stop it? No, but it can slow it.

Tell us how opening up your thinning program benefits overall forest health and wildfires.

By opening up that forest, we’re increasing the native forbs and grasses out there, which then, in turn, brings in more wildlife and creates diversity in our timbered areas because it’s so uniform across the landscape all one age. I’m opening that up and getting a mosaic of what we all think was there historically. Then, you have that diversity for different species, and there’s more edge effect for the different birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects, which will improve the habitat.

How does managing a private forest like Trinchera differ from an agency or federal forest like the US Forest Service?

What makes Trinchera different is that it’s private. We’re not tied to all of the regulations and oversight from the public. We have the freedom and the autonomy to actually implement on the ground and be able to do it quickly. For instance, when dealing with the blowdowns–we couldn’t get there in December, but by spring, once those areas dried out, we were in there harvesting. We don’t have to go through a bunch of procedural stuff to get in–we’re ready to go when these things happen. We can also be adaptive in our management practices–we can be flexible and move with issues, where our federal and state partners have their hands tied. That’s the beauty of working on private land–you can get to these issues and handle them quickly and efficiently.

I know that Trinchera invites universities and researchers onto the property, could you talk about them a little bit?

We have worked and partnered with Yale University, Colorado State University, Utah State University, and more. Whether it’s the forestry program, range program, or fisheries, we here at Trinchera are looking for that science-based knowledge to build and improve our program. The universities also get to provide the experience for these graduate and undergraduate students in getting out and researching and understanding how the real world works.

An Inclusive Experience

<p>While most Trinchera Ranch experiences are included in your stay, there are a few exclusions and experiences available for an additional cost. Please reach out to our dedicated team for specific rates.</p>

INCLUSIONS

Start your day with a delicious breakfast and savor inspired lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the day.
Quench your thirst with an extensive selection of beverages, including our signature cocktails, mocktails, liquors, wines, and champagne.
Set forth into a world of recreational and educational activities offered on our property, equipment included.

ADDITIONS

For those eager to embark on exciting fishing adventures, we have half-day or full-day guided fly fishing trips available.
Embrace tranquility with spa treatments and daily yoga classes to nurture your mind, body, and soul.

EXCLUSIONS

15% gratuity will be added to acknowledge our dedicated team members who ensure a remarkable stay.
A 6.9% state and county tax will be applied to your total bill.
While transportation from the airport is not included, we can assist you in making arrangements.
<a href="https://trinchera.vercel.app/stay#full-lodge-buyout"> Interested in a full-lodge buyout?</a>