In January, Marcus Selig was named the Director of Colorado Programs for the National Forest Foundation (NFF), which aims to keep the Centennial State’s grasslands healthy and safe. Here, Selig talks about threats to Colorado forests and how NFF is partnering with Colorado ski resorts.

How often do you get to go outside as part of your job?

Maybe a few times a month, but I make sure that I get out in the national forests at least every weekend and after work.

What are some of the biggest threats to Colorado’s forests?

The ones that people hear about the most are pine beetle and spruce beetle. Those are natural, but we’re seeing increased epidemics and outbreaks, which is scary. There’s significant use on the forests from a recreational standpoint, and we need to make sure that we’re keeping up with all the infrastructure to deal with that.

What are you doing now or in the future to combat those threats?

Following these big fires that we’re seeing more and more of, the damage that comes after those fires can be quite severe, from flooding, damage to utility infrastructure, all of that. So our work on the Hayman fire was really showing that we can do work to help mitigate that damage. We hope to help deal with the recreation side of things: making sure that there’s adequate access, and that access is well maintained and appropriate for that area. It’s also educating the public on the culture and historical significance of the area.

You work with a lot of Colorado’s ski resorts. How do they come in to play with the NFF?

A lot of ski resorts in Colorado are located on national forest land. Our vision was that it would be great if these ski areas could provide an opportunity for skiers to give back to the national forests. The resorts that participate in the ski conservation fund collect contributions from visitors and the money is given to local nonprofit groups that are doing stewardship activities on those forests.

Do the ski conservation projects turn out pretty well?

Oh yeah. We run a competitive grant process every year to give out the money from the ski conservation fund. We have tons of great applicants and they do all kinds of great work—everything from trail work to watershed restoration to habitat improvement.

What’s up next for you and the National Forest Foundation?

Over the next six months to a year I’m really exploring other opportunities to engage local communities and benefit forests. I’m kind of in an exploration mode right now.

—Image by Windy Selig