Lightning igniting cooperation
I just returned from visiting several forests throughout this region and saw first hand the dry conditions contributing to significant wildland fire activity. It is that time of year when thunderstorms pack a punch ” an abundance of lightning with very little moisture. Our dry landscapes are incredibly vulnerable to the ignitions these storms bring.
Governor Owens proclaimed this past week, June 18 to 24, as “Lightning and Wildfire Preparedness Week.” Our wildland firefighters need your help to reduce the number of fires ignited during this critical time. So far this year nearly 600 fires have burned 76,030 acres throughout Colorado, nearly half of which were caused by human activities. While I have confidence in our firefighters to continue their nearly 99 percent success rate of extinguishing fires early on, they are staying very busy with the naturally-caused fires. We all need to take precautions to prevent our personal actions from igniting tinder dry vegetation which may lead to a wildfire.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of Colorado citizens, and our federal state and county partners who have worked so hard to help protect our communities from the threat of wildfire. Together much work has been done throughout Colorado on thousands of critical acres surrounding our communities mitigating the risk of wildfires to homes, property and forests that provide clean water.
In addition, I applaud the actions of our Congressional delegation, citizens and partners in helping us address the added fire danger posed by the beetle-killed timber in many Colorado mountain communities. This is a complex problem with no easy answers, but together we are finding creative solutions. In some cases the dead trees removed from the forest are being used as an alternative energy source for the local community.
The next several weeks will no doubt be challenging to firefighters throughout the state. We are, however, doing the right things to reduce our risk now and into the future. I know there is much work yet to be done, but I am confident in the spirit of cooperation so strong that we will be able to do what it takes to help fire play its natural role without posing unnecessary risk to our homes and critical resources.
Rocky Mountain regional forester
USDA Forest Service
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