Extension Program Areas and Work Teams

Natural Resources and the Environment - Leader: Steven Newman

Natural resources are important to produce food, fiber, timber, and bioenergy. Colorado farms, urban landscapes and forestlands provide carbon sequestration, clean air and water, scenic vistas, and biodiversity. This is a broad emphasis area that integrates research, education, and extension expertise to address contemporary environmental and natural resource problems with new approaches that are economically sound and environmentally advantageous. Extension programming from this area will provide the citizens of Colorado with:

  1. Research-based plant, soil, water and pest management practices for the management of ornamental landscapes, and for small-scale/local food production;
  2. Programs that increase citizens’ skill in identification of native plants and invasive alien weeds and increase participants’ ability to use natives for sustainable landscaping and manage noxious weeds;
  3. Programs that address the long-term need for a comprehensive, high quality integrated pest management system encompassing the disciplines of entomology, plant pathology and weed science;
  4. Programs that provide small acreage landowners with natural resource management education so that landowners will increase their skills and knowledge base, resulting in adoption of accepted best management practices on small acreage properties across Colorado; and
  5. Programs that provide adequate supplies of clean water essential to the health and well-being of Colorado citizens, agriculture, industry, wildlife and the economic vitality of the State.

Environmental Horticulture

Professional landscape management and homeowner gardening activities contribute significantly to the economy of Colorado. Colorado household and business expenditures on garden, landscape and lawn products and services (including linkage industries such as irrigation systems, botanical gardens, lawn and garden equipment and maintenance services) have averaged almost 10% annual growth since 1993, for a 2007 total of $1.8 billion. The $1.8 billion directly contributed to the Colorado economy increases to $3.3 billion when its impact on broader economic activity and employment generation in the Colorado economy is considered.

The quality of a landscape design and maintenance is a major factor in the home and property values. The average household in Colorado spends over $1,000 annually on landscape care and gardening supplies. Landscaping yields an average of a 109% return on every dollar spent, much more so than other home improvements. The primary issues addressed by Environmental Horticulture Extension include:

  1. Ornamental landscapes,
  2. Diagnostic services,
  3. Small-scale food production, and
  4. Volunteer engagement.

Native Plant Education

The Native Plant Education Work Team develops programs that effect positive change in participants’ skill in identification of native plants and invasive alien weeds and increase participants’ ability to use natives for sustainable landscaping and manage noxious weeds.

Increased use of native plants in sustainable landscapes and control of alien invasive weeds results in a positive impact on the natural environment and reduced costs to individuals and enterprises. Sustainable landscapes using site-appropriate native plants can reduce the need for water and maintenance. Native plants can also be beneficial because they are environmentally adapted, hardy, provide food and shelter for wildlife and maintain local biological diversity.

Invasive, non-native weeds are a concern in many communities and threaten native ecosystems. Management of invasive weeds is critical when maintaining a natural space or a landscaped yard and garden. About 42% of the species on the Threatened or Endangered Species lists are at risk primarily because of alien invasive species. Nonindigenous species in the United States cause major environmental damage and losses totaling approximately $120 billion per year.

Pest Management

The Pest Management Work Team addresses the long-term need for a comprehensive, high quality integrated pest management system encompassing the disciplines of entomology, plant pathology and weed science. Pest activity and severity are dynamic and thus demand for pest diagnostics, management education and a systems approach will be ongoing. There is no other agency or organization that can assume the core applied research and outreach IPM program of Bioagricultural Sciences & Pest Management and IPM-disciplinary based extension and research personnel throughout the Colorado State University system. The efforts of this work team are to Grow Colorado’s economy and effectiveness of pest management through the following efforts:

  1. To better serve stakeholder needs, extension agents, research scientists, and department specialists (most of whom have joint Agricultural Experiment Station appointments)
  2. To collectively conduct sound, relevant research as the basis for extension education
  3. To monitor and prioritize pests in Colorado regions through IPM projects and periodic surveys
  4. To enhance pest diagnostics through the CSU Plant Pest Clinic and statewide training, and
  5. To promote collaborative activities with stakeholders and entities at CSU – i.e., departments, STEM, CE & AES and in Colorado – i.e., CDA and USDA pest programs, Pesticide Applicator Training

Small Acreage Management

The Small Acreage Management Work Team will work to develop and implement high quality educational programs and tools for the small acreage landowners in their communities.  Strategies to provide education and technical assistance will include site visits, workshops (single or in a series format), field demonstrations, webinars, educational videos, newsletters, seminars, and technical advising. The primary goal of this program of work is to provide small acreage landowners with natural resource management education so that landowners will increase their skills and knowledge base, resulting in adoption of accepted best management practices on small acreage properties across Colorado.

The program addresses the needs of small acreage landowners who own one to 100 acres of land.  These individuals live on small acreage properties because they embrace the rural lifestyle but do not necessarily intend to derive income from the property. According to the USDA ERS (Economic Research Service) 2007 census data, 48.5% of Colorado farms are 1-99 acres in size. The number of small farms (1-99 acres in size) has increased by 7.7% since 1997.

Water Resources

The mission of the Colorado Water Institute and the Water Resources Work Team is to connect all of Colorado's higher education expertise to the research and education needs of Colorado water managers and users. In the latest Statewide Water Supply Initiative Report (SWSI 2010), Colorado's water supply was estimated at: 1,161,000 AF/year for 2010, but demand for water is expected to grow to almost double this amount by 2050 thanks to an almost proportionate increase in the state's population in the same time. Between 500,000 and 700,000 acres of irrigated ground are likely to lose irrigation water through transfers to municipalities by 2050.

Colorado water policy is an ever-evolving process that includes many institutions, agencies, corporations, and individuals. Understanding the subtleties and significance of water resource policy and the likely impact on local economies and quality of life is a growing need among the state’s citizens. Additionally there are a growing number of water quality concerns throughout the state. As diluting flows are not likely to become more abundant in the future and detection technology improves, threats to Colorado’s snowmelt fed rivers, streams, and lakes should see increased scrutiny.

Updated Tuesday, August 05, 2014