Fish Creek Road runs along the eastern edge of Estes Park, Colorado – or at least it used to. The recent record rainfall of September 2013 flooded Fish Creek proper, washing away entire segments of the roadway that runs alongside it – more than three miles of roadway, according to
Category Archive: Ecology
One year ago today, a wildfire ignited near the Fern Lake trail head in Rocky Mountain National Park when careless hikers failed to extinguish their illegal campfire. Although October generally falls outside of the “fire season” in Colorado, 2012 had already been a record year for drought and wildfire, and the landscape was exceedingly dry and vulnerable to a spark. This autumn fire set off alarm bells for fire managers and climatologists, burning into the winter, growing by three miles in 35 minutes in December and smoldering under the snow long into the springtime. Finally, on June 25, 2013 officials declared the fire out, but warned that if conditions did not change, Coloradans could expect more anomalous, overwintering, long-burning, smoldering wildfires.
With the frequency and intensity of wildfires on the rise, communities and policymakers in the West are faced with the cost of loss and the strain of rebuilding. But one conversation that is not happening in the public sphere is whether we should be rebuilding – or building at all – in the dangerous fire-prone zone known as the Wildland-Urban Interface, or the WUI. The Stand’s Christi Turner spoke with Ray Rasker, director of Headwaters Economics, a leading independent research institute specializing in major land management issues in the West, including wildfire. Rasker emphasized the need to broaden the discourse to a national level and to address both the part of the WUI that is already developed, and more importantly, the large portion of the WUI still vulnerable to future development.
Spring has turned to what could be another hot, dry summer in Colorado, and fears of when and where the next devastating wildfire may occur are heightening. And while Boulder County is considered to have a robust and community-focused wildfire mitigation program, scientists and local land managers agree that to truly reduce the destruction from the next wildfire that strikes the area, both the community and the county government still need to do more.