Living in a Wildfire Prone Landscape

PHOTO BY COALITION FOR THE POUDRE WATERSHED A Pasque Flower emerges in spring after the High Park Fire of 2012.

Weston Toll
The Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed

It has been six years since the summer of 2012 when wildfires swept across almost 90,000 acres of the Poudre watershed. In those six years, we have started to see the forests and rivers recover, signs of new growth, black slopes showing signs of grasses, shrubs, & wildflowers. Our communities across the watershed have also seen six years of re-building, evolving, adapting. But there is still so much opportunity for all of us to work together to keep building stronger, more resilient communities that are better adapted to living in harmony with the wildfires that are an integral part of where many of us live.

Humans and fire have a long history in our landscape. Along with lightning started fires, Native Americans regularly burned the vegetation to open an area and to favor plants that attract game animals. These natural and human-caused fires helped select vegetation that tend to depend on fires for their existence and created a patchwork of vegetation types. In these ecosystems, the plants and animals have many adaptations that help them survive and reestablish after fires. But with European settlement, management approaches shifted from using fire to a focus on suppressing fires. The resultant near absence of wildland fire over the past century has dramatically altered our landscapes, creating forests that are more susceptible to catastrophic, large scale incidents such as the High Park Fire.

In past years, the growing recognition of the long-term adverse ecological and social impacts of suppressing fires has led to greater discussion about how we can better live in natural landscapes where fire is a necessary ecological process. That is why we are starting this regular column as one way to help. Our hope with this regular column is to help stimulate community conversation around all the different ways we can grow both communities and forests that are more resilient. Through this column, we will explore how wildfires have shaped our local ecology, how forest managers and others are taking steps to reduce wildfire hazards, prescribed fires, and build human communities better adapted to fire. Is there a topic that you think we should explore? Let us know! We will also be letting North Forty News readers know about local community events and opportunities happening around the watershed relating to wildfire resilience.

A few upcoming opportunities for residents are right around the corner. Each year in Colorado, people in the fire world talk about our “fire season,” which historically occurs from June to late fall. Before fire season starts is a time where communities focus on how to be better prepared for wildfires. If you are interested in connecting with your neighbors and learning about wildfire preparedness, there are events happening in May and June to do just that. May 5th is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, where communities can learn how to join the effort to reduce wildfire risk across the country. Preparedness Day is a call to action that gives people of all ages a chance to plan and participate in a risk reduction or wildfire preparedness activity that makes their community a safer place to live – This is a national day of action but there are events right here in the Poudre Watershed: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm Glacier View Fire Protection District is utilizing this day as a slash and haul Day where we will offer to the community 5 volunteers with 1 trailer to come to your property and pick up your slash and haul it for a small donation of $50.

On June 9, 2018, Glacier View Fire Protection District is hosting the 3rd Annual Glacier View Wildfire Community Event at Glacier View Fire Protection District (1414 Green Mountain Drive Livermore, CO – Glacier View Gate 8) from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm: Glacier View Fire Protection District is partnering with North 40 Mountain Alliance for a Community Wildfire & Resiliency Event – Northern Larimer County mountain fire departments and other organizations will be represented (Livermore FD, Red Feather Lakes FD, Crystal Lakes FD, Poudre Canyon Fire, as well as The US Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, LifeLine flight for life and the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed). This event will highlight “Uniting the Mountain to Preserve Land and Homes,” a place where we can meet to discuss and learn about preparedness, mitigation, evacuation and resiliency.

The Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed is a local non-profit whose mission is to improve and maintain the ecological health of the Poudre River watershed through community collaboration. For more information visit or email

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