Ken and Lois acquired their property in 1976. The land belonged to Lois’s father, W.W. West who purchased the original 180-acre parcel in 1954 as a place for the family to camp, fish, and hunt. When Ken and Lois purchased the land from W.W., the time they spent at Pine Song increased a bit year after year until 2000, when they made Pine Song their permanent home.
Along with the contemplation to eventually move to the property, came the realization of the land’s overgrown forest, which was burdened with a six-inch layer of duff and densely packed trees. With Consulting Forester Dick Berkholz at their side, Ken and Lois established management objectives to produce wood products, control insects and disease, improve wildlife and fish habitat, protect water quality, develop fire protection, and guard against soil erosion.
The Carpenters filled their plate high with hopes for, and expectations of Pine Song! Forests were thinned,; seedlings planted; saw timber sold; a catch-and-release program established on a sensitive stream; rainbow trout were stocked; and retreats, tours and picnics were hosted for friends, schools, and churches.
In April 2000, Ken and Lois moved to Pine Song permanently. Little did they know that a life-changing event was soon to occur: the Missionary Ridge Fire. Although not the largest fire in the history of Colorado, the fire was one of the most devastating. It burned over 72,000 acres of San Juan National Forest and destroyed 58 homes. The Carpenter’s relatively small tree farm was a microcosm of the damages incurred throughout the entire burn area. Eighty acres of the tree farm were impacted, 40 of which were a total loss. Recreation was a complete loss: The Los Pinos River had sand bars three feet high in the middle and along the banks. The river suffered 100 percent fish kill in the Class A fishery they had developed over the previous 10 years and there were few signs of wildlife on the property.
Following the fire, the Carpenters found themselves with a new vision and a new mission: to not only survive the fire and its effects on Pine Song Tree Farm, but to meet with renewed vigor the goals of the ATFS.
Ken and Lois responded to the devastation of the fire with increased forest management efforts, while also playing a key role in helping their community bounce back from the impact of the fires.