By: Ronald Hodgson, Bureau of Land Management and Katherine Timm, Colorado State Forest Service
Colorado faces perhaps the most serious wildfire threat in the state’s history. Drought conditions combined with vegetation densities far greater than those found in native forests, insect-killed trees and homes built in the wildlands have set the stage for disaster. We have already seen wildfires forcing large-scale evacuations. As this is written, the Schoonover Fire, is burning northwest of Colorado Springs, is currently threatening homes, camps and the community of Deckers. This fire is lightning-caused but the recent Snaking Gulch and Black Mountain fires – and many other small fires that did not make headlines – were human-caused.
Fire prevention is more important now than ever before. Colorado cannot afford unwanted fires that compromise human safety, property and the state’s precious natural resources.
We are asking Colorado residents to join us in an extraordinary wildfire prevention campaign until this dangerous fire season is behind us. In addition to taking special care not to start fires themselves, we hope residents of communities surrounded by wildlands will urge visitors and neighbors to take extra precautions with fire. Every citizen can promote fire prevention in his or her own way.
Oftentimes when wildfires are in the news headlines, the public seeks ways to help. Following are some examples of how homeowners, businesses, civic organizations and others can contribute to fire-prevention efforts in their local communities:
- Business owners might make and post prevention signs and fire restriction information at their place of business.
- Gas stations might post hand-printed prevention signs on gas pumps to inform travelers.
- Advertisers might include fire-prevention messages in their ads.
- Restaurants might include a fire-prevention message on menus.
- Schools might post banners.
- Fire departments might place signs at their stations.
- The media might include messages in their regular programming or papers.
- DJs might make a point to urge local residents to “pitch-in for prevention.”
- Homeowners, ranchers and others might post signs on their property reminding visitors to be especially careful with fire.
- Every weather report might contain something about fire weather.
Those who want to help can find ideas and information at https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire.
Slogans you might want to consider include:
- “We love these woods-don’t light them up”
- “Campfires can cost you-fines, jail time, and the firefighting costs”
- OR make up your own slogan and don’t forget to involve 4-H’ers-they have great ideas!