Roam Responsibly: Wildfire Recovery & Prevention
Wildfires have scorched the West and Colorado in particular for hundreds of years—long before the state was founded. Over the years the wildfire season has lengthened and the intensity of fires greater, making it essential for visitors and locals alike to take action in preventing wildfires. Learn more about how Grand County has remained resilient through past forest fires and how you can help prevent fires when visiting or residing in our majestic mountain community.
About the East Troublesome Fire
Reported in October 2020, Grand County encountered the second largest wildfire in Colorado’s history, and the largest in the county’s history, also known as the East Troublesome Fire. With extensive impact on the wildlife, landscapes and local community, the fire burned nearly 200,000 acres including the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The East Troublesome fire destroyed 370 homes and 188 structures, killing two residents.
A Response to Wildfires in Grand County
After a wildfire, there are multiple actions the county takes to ensure the recovery and health of both the community and affected lands. With the help of Grand County organizations and stewardship partners such as the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Headwaters Trail Alliance, and Grand Foundation, Grand County is able to provide the necessary resources to build back, restore trails, and more.
Phases of Wildfire Recovery on Federal Lands
After wildfire containment, there are three phases of post-fire recovery taken by the U.S. Forest Service and Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams.
- Fire Suppression Repair: The first phase of fire recovery includes repairing damages and minimizing soil erosion and impacts from fire suppression activities. Actions include reparations of fire lines, roads, trails, and safety zones used during fire suppression initiatives.
- Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response: A BAER team assesses watersheds and identifies threats to human life, property and critical natural or cultural resources on national forest lands. Immediate action is taken to stabilize these threats and can include installation of barriers to protect recovering areas, installation of warning signs, replacement of safety related facilities, removal of safety hazards, and prevention of loss of habitat for endangered species.
- Long-Term Recovery & Restoration: Lastly, long-term actions are taken to improve damaged lands, repair non-essential facilities, begin reforestation, and install interpretive signs.
Wildfire Recovery Community Resources
With hundreds of homes destroyed during the East Troublesome Fire, there are various fire recovery resources ranging from mental health services to debris removal available for the Grand County community. Notable work being done by the Headwaters Trail Alliance and Grand Foundation showcases the resilience of Grand County.
The Grand Foundation is a nonprofit organization working to improve the quality of life in Grand County, funding local businesses and groups that provide essential services to residents. The foundation’s Grand County Wildfire Emergency Fund is currently supporting residents impacted by the East Troublesome Fire by funding immediate needs such as food, clothing, shelter, mental health services, debris removal, and grass seed. They are also working on longer term needs for water quality, reforestation, and conservation. Learn more about the Grand Foundation’s wildfire recovery work here.
Headwaters Trail Alliance
Restoring and preserving the trails throughout Grand County, Headwaters Trail Alliance (HTA) is a nonprofit focusing on repairing the recreation areas damaged by fires as part of Grand County’s post-fire recovery efforts. HTA is working with volunteers to assess and maintain trail areas by removing downed trees, creating burn piles, repairing tread, and improving drainage. Learn more about current projects HTA is working on here.
To get involved in trail restoration, HTA offers various volunteer opportunities for visitors, community members and businesses. Explore upcoming volunteer events to find out more.
Roaming Responsibly in Grand County
According to the U.S Department of Interior, a majority of all wildfires—as many as 90%— are human-caused, meaning that we have the ability to prevent these destructive events. To ensure the safety and long term enjoyment of both the Grand County community and surrounding areas, it’s essential for visitors and locals alike to prevent the start and spread of forest fires. See updates on fire restrictions and county alerts to prepare for your trip to Grand County.
Tips for Preventing Wildfires
Help us Care for Colorado by educating yourself on ways to roam responsibly before visiting Grand County. To get started, here are a few practices to follow that help prevent wildfires:
- Always check the current fire restrictions and adhere to any campfire bans and regulations for the area you are visiting.
- Be cautious when smoking, especially in dry climates, and always put cigarettes out.
- Only use local firewood in order to minimize the spread of invasive insects.
- Keep campfires small, use existing fire rings, and completely burn wood to ash—dousing the ash once done.
Help protect Colorado’s natural resources by visiting Care for Colorado and Leave No Trace. For more information on campfire etiquette view the video below.
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