Hayman Restoration Partnership

Working Together for           Healthy Forests and Clean Water


USDA: Justin DeJong, 202-720-4623, justin.dejong@oc.usda.gov

Forest Service: Janelle Smith, 303-275-5359, janellesmith@fs.fed.us
Vail Resorts: Amy Kemp, 303-404-1863, akemp@vailresorts.com
NFF: Mary Mitsos, 406-542-2805, x. 15, mmitsos@nationalforests.org 

Project Background


In June of 2002, the perfect conditions for a devastating fire converged in the forests near Denver, Colorado. A five-year period of below-normal precipitation and unseasonably dry air; absence of fire in the area during the previous 100 years; high, gusty winds; low precipitation; and human carelessness collided to create Colorado’s largest and most impactful fire.


For 20 days, the Hayman Fire raged through the Pike National Forest, as well as state, county and private lands, burning a total of 137,760 acres. In its wake, the fire consumed 600 structures, including 133 homes, jeopardized habitat for numerous threatened or endangered species, and severely impacted the water source for more than 75% of Colorado’s 4.3 million residents and states downstream.




The goal of this restoration effort is to restore a number of critical sub-basins within the Hayman Fire. West Creek, Manitou Park, Lower Trout and Four Mile watersheds are still producing an inordinate amount of sediment into the Denver Metro water supply. The restoration effort will include riparian restoration to help reduce sediment loads, enhancement and relocation of trails, reforestation, noxious weed eradication, native plant and wildlife habitat restoration, and climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. The objective will be to complete this restoration work by 2012, the 10th anniversary of the Hayman fire.


A central component of the implementation strategy will be significant community involvement and engagement. Restoration implementation will happen through multiple avenues including volunteer efforts, employing youth through the Mile High Youth Corp, local nonprofits such as the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, and contracts. The partners will be engaging the public in this effort to help reconnect Colorado residents to their backyard. A social/economic goal of the project is for local nonprofits and community interests to have the capacity and resources to actively engage as partners, as well as sustain the watersheds over the long term. Scientific inquiry will also be integrated into the project, and lessons will be shared among scientists, the Forest Service, and the community.


The total project area is over 115,000 thousand acres. The majority of the work will take place on the 45,000 acres within the project area that were burned by the Hayman fire. Details of the restoration work include:

  • Plant more than 200,000 ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and other native trees on over 1,700 acres;
  • Plant native vegetation, such as willows, dogwood, grasses and sedge, for river restoration on 115 acres, across 13 miles;
  • Restore habitat for the endangered Montane Skipper Butterfly and other threatened species; 
  • Reduce erosion to improve water quality and positively impact the water supply and storage capacity for millions of Colorado residents;
  • Revitalize stream habitats for a gold-medal trout fishery;
  • Enhance or create 18 miles of sustainable recreational trails;
  • Increase the diversity and resiliency of this critical ecosystem to mitigate future fires, insect infestations and climate change; and
  • Create jobs for Colorado youth and engage the community through volunteer opportunities.



The National Forest Foundation and the Forest Service are fully committed to this public/private partnership effort. Vail Resorts is the lead donor in the campaign to restore these essential watersheds affected by the Hayman Fire to a more resilient ecosystem. The initial list of additional participating groups includes: Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Mile High Youth Corp, Denver Water and The Nature Conservancy.