Viceroy Snowmass to host wildfire conference | AspenTimes.com

Viceroy Snowmass to host wildfire conference

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Guatemala, Tikal National Park

Wildfire is always on the minds of residents of the West, particularly at times like the present when much of the country is engulfed in flames.

A statewide wildfire conference has chosen Snowmass Village as its host town this year and will hold sessions at the Viceroy Snowmass Sept. 24-26. While some of the discussions will be fairly technical, organizers wanted to stress that the goal of the conference — the theme of which is "Creating Fire Adapted Communities" — is to spread fire science information to whole communities.

"The concept of a fire-adapted community is that everybody is sharing in the responsibility of preparing for wildfire so that it doesn't just become a fire suppression game where we put it all in the hands of the fire districts and the Forest Service/BLM," said Eric Lovgren, Eagle County wildfire mitigation specialist, who will speak in two sessions at the conference.

One of those, called "Community Wildfire Resilience: The Realtor Perspective," will deal with fire-resistant construction, the role of home insurance in wildfire mitigation, and how home ignitions occur, among other things. Lovgren will be joined by other municipal leaders as well as real estate agents in the panel.

“It gets technical for professionals, but there’s a lot in there for members of the community who may have some sort of leadership role within their smaller portion of the county or state.”Eric LovgrenEagle County wildfire mitigation specialist

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"It gets technical for professionals, but there's a lot in there for members of the community who may have some sort of leadership role within their smaller portion of the county or state," Lovgren said.

The conference is sponsored by the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network, an organization that's part of a larger national network with a goal of disseminating fire science information, particularly as it relates to land management decisions, said coordinator Gloria Edwards. The Colorado Wildland Conference started in 1997 and was last held in Glenwood Springs.

"In more recent conferences, we've identified a need to get in touch with the municipal leadership and policy makers, like county planners, county commissioners, legislators, Colorado state-level policy makers, architects, planners, to help bring them in on the wildfire conversation and give them information they wouldn't otherwise get in their daily routine," Edwards said.

Local municipal leaders and Snowmass firefighters will be in attendance at the conference. In addition, Mayor Markey Butler will welcome the attendees, and the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District will host an evening social at the fire station on Sept. 25.

Keynote speakers, according to a press release, are: Kathleen Tierney, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder whose current research focuses on the political economy of disasters and community resilience; Jack Cohen, a wildland fire researcher; and Molly Mowery, who has worked with local, state and national government agencies on solutions to the challenges of wildfire.

Preparing for wildfires and limiting the damages to property and life takes a holistic approach, looking at entire neighborhoods, watersheds or towns, Edwards said.

"It's one thing to construct defensible space around your home, but as we've seen, wildfire is a much more landscape-level issue than that," Edwards said.

For more information or for tickets, visit http://www.wildfire-colorado.com.

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