When the High Park fire was first reported on June 9, none of us knew the significant impacts it would have on each of us, our friends, neighbors, coworkers and our community. As the fire quickly spread, so did the support from our community and the work of our emergency responders.
As the Canyon Lakes District Ranger on the Roosevelt National Forest, my employees and I are faced daily with the reality of wildland fires. But, not even our staff expected a fire of this magnitude and effect. All of us had to quickly react to support firefighting activities and public safety.
Our local fire managers and law enforcement officers acted with great heroism, some even as their houses burned. Those in Rist Canyon know only too well as they defended the Stove Prairie School. There are so many remarkable stories from this fire and I am honored to have worked with so many dedicated individuals.
Many things will stick with me regarding the High Park fire, but maybe not any more than the outpouring of support from our communities. Strangers lining the road to welcome firefighters home each night or signs posted in many neighborhoods, even as the fire went into the third week of burning, made me proud to live and work in Northern Colorado. Those individuals may not have known it at the time, but their acts of encouragement truly did boost the morale of our hardworking firefighters. Many individuals who lost houses expressed support and concern for those still working to protect others’ homes – remarkable.
This fire dealt many blows to the citizens of Larimer County, particularly to those in and around the fire, but the community and those managing and fighting the fire kept getting right back up. And, we will continue this battle for months and years to come as our communities rebuild and our natural resources recover.
The next steps will take time, and we ask for your patience as the Forest Service works to protect our natural resources and the public’s safety. Many have offered help and we are planning volunteer work days for some of our trails impacted by both the High Park Fire and the Hewlett Fire.
Thanks again to each of you for your support.
Canyon Lakes District Ranger