A Civic Information Project

FIRE & SMOKE LOCATOR MAP

WILDFIRES THREATEN THE COLORADO WE LOVE

Wildfires can impact everything we hold dear, threatening our families, our homes, and our way of life.
We’re all in this together and you’re part of the solution.

Click a circle to reveal an answer

These easy-to-use apps can help protect your family, pets, home and even your lifestyle.

WILDFIRE THOUGHT LEADERS

There is a growing community of individuals and organizations making a significant impact in the wildfire mitigation space. From firefighters to foresters, scientists to entrepreneurs, these passionate people are working tirelessly to develop innovative solutions to prevent and manage wildfires.

Emily Olsen

Sr. Director of Conservation Programs,
National Forest Foundation

Rob Addington

Director of Forest and Fire Program, The Nature Conservancy in Colorado

Cindy Williams

Co-lead of Envision,
Chaffee County

LEARN MORE

These resources have been sourced from both local and global perspectives to help provide the most accurate information and increase awareness about wildfires.

Tips:

• Not all smoke is a danger sign. Check to see if there’s a prescribed fire in your area.

• Keep your cell phone charged when wildfires could be in your area.

• Purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

• Create a “go bag” ready with essentials such as food, water, valuables and first aid supplies.

• Learn how to create a “clean room” at home.

• The Colorado State Forest Service produces a free newsletter to inform the public about its various programs.
Sign up here.

Tools:

The Colorado Forest Atlas provides the best available wildfire info.

• Learn how to Live Wildfire Ready with the Colorado State Forest Service.

• Download the FEMA app for a list of open shelters during an active disaster.

Create a Fire
Adapted Community document tailored to your community
.

• Smoke and Fire Locator Maps, and Live Prescribed Fire Map InciWeb

• Dial 2-1-1 to find
vital services such as
emergency shelter, food and more.

FAQ:

Glossary of Common Terms

• What areas are more prone to wildfires?

• How do I find out my
evacuation routes?

• Do I have adequate insurance coverage for my home and belongings?

• When are wildfires
most likely to occur?

• How do I get in touch with my local legislators to share my feedback?

• Federal, state and local
agencies: Which is responsible for what actions?

Innovations:

Drones are helping fight wildfires.

NASA satellite
instruments
are often the first to detect
wildfires.

Real-time Intelligence tools are helping firefighters track burn risks.

• Find more new
innovations at
Springwise.

Dryad provides ultra-early forest fire detection as well as health and growth monitoring solutions for public and private forests.

LEARN MORE

These resources have been sourced from both local and global perspectives to help provide the most accurate information and increase awareness about wildfires.

Tips:

• Not all smoke is a danger sign. Check to see if there’s a prescribed fire in your area.

• Keep your cell phone charged when wildfires could be in your area.

• Purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

• Create a “go bag” ready with essentials such as food, water, valuables and first aid supplies.

• Learn how to create a “clean room” at home.

• The Colorado State Forest Service produces a free newsletter to inform the public about its various programs.
Sign up here.

Tools:

The Colorado Forest Atlas provides the best available wildfire info.

• Learn how to Live Wildfire Ready with the Colorado State Forest Service.

• Download the FEMA app for a list of open shelters during an active disaster.

Create a Fire Adapted Community document tailored to your community.

• Smoke and Fire Locator Maps, and Live Prescribed Fire Map InciWeb

• Dial 2-1-1 to find vital services such as emergency shelter, food and more.

FAQ:

Glossary of Common Terms

• What areas are more prone to wildfires?

• How do I find out my
evacuation routes?

• Do I have adequate insurance coverage for my home and belongings?

• When are wildfires
most likely to occur?

• How do I get in touch with my local legislators to share my feedback?

• Federal, state and local
agencies: Which is responsible for what actions?

Innovations:

Drones are helping fight wildfires.

NASA satellite instruments are often the first to detect wildfires.

Real-time Intelligence tools are helping firefighters track burn risks.

• Find more new innovations at
Springwise.

Dryad provides ultra-early forest fire detection as well as health and growth monitoring solutions for public and private forests.

LEARN MORE

These resources have been sourced from both local and global perspectives to help provide the most accurate information and increase awareness about wildfires.

Tips:

• Not all smoke is a danger sign. Check to see if there’s a prescribed fire in your area.

• Keep your cell phone charged when wildfires could be in your area.

• Purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

• Create a “go bag” ready with essentials such as food, water, valuables and first aid supplies.

• Learn how to create a “clean room” at home.

• The Colorado State Forest Service produces a free newsletters to inform the public about its various programs.
Sign up here.

Tools:

The Colorado Forest Atlas provides the best available wildfire info.

• Learn how to Live Wildfire Ready with the Colorado State Forest Service.

• Download the FEMA app for a list of open shelters during an active disaster.

Create a Fire Adapted Community document tailored to your community.

• Smoke and Fire Locator Maps, and Live Prescribed Fire Map InciWeb

• Dial 2-1-1 to find vital services such as emergency shelter, food and more.

FAQ:

Glossary of Common Terms

• What areas are more prone to wildfires?

• How do I find out my
evacuation routes?

• Do I have adequate insurance coverage for my home and belongings?

• When are wildfires
most likely to occur?

• How do I get in touch with my local legislators to share my feedback?

• Federal, state and local
agencies: Which is responsible for what actions?

Innovations:

Drones are helping fight wildfires.

NASA satellite instruments are often the first to detect wildfires.

Real-time Intelligence tools are helping firefighters track burn risks.

• Find more new innovations at Springwise.

Dryad provides ultra-early forest fire detection as well as health and growth monitoring solutions for public and private forests.

FEATURED HIGH-RISK WILDFIRE PROFILES

Some areas are a higher wildfire risk for various reasons, including their proximity to
the forest and available evacuation routes. Click here to see the risk to your area.

Some areas are a higher wildfire risk for various reasons, including their proximity to the forest and available evacuation routes. Click here to see the risk to your area.

Evergreen

Boulder

Colorado Springs

A DEEPER DIVE

Directory of Wildfire Stakeholders

Partner Spotlight

Helpful Resources

Water

What’s the Threat?

Wildfires can compromise water quality during an active burn and for months and years after the fire has been extinguished. Burned watersheds are prone to increased flooding and erosion, which can negatively affect water-supply reservoirs, water quality, and drinking-water treatment processes. Four regional watersheds originate high in the mountains in Colorado: the Arkansas, Colorado, South Platte (Missouri), and Rio Grande River Basins (Colorado Watershed Assembly, n.d.).

Water Contamination: The ash, debris, and sediment that can flow into rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water after a wildfire.

Damaged Infrastructure: The intense heat from wildfires can also damage water infrastructure, such as water treatment plants and pipelines, leading to potential contamination of the water supply.

Flash Flooding: Wildfires can increase the risk of flash flooding, which can carry sediment and debris into water sources and cause further contamination.

The combination of direct contamination from ash and debris, erosion, and damage to water infrastructure and increased risk of flooding makes wildfires a significant threat to water quality in Colorado. Learn more here.

Air

What’s the Threat?

Wildfires can have a significant impact on air quality, both locally and regionally. Here are some of the ways that wildfires can impact air quality:

Smoke: The smoke generated by wildfires contains particulate matter, which can be harmful to human health. These particles can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and can cause respiratory problems, especially for people with pre-existing conditions like asthma or heart disease.

Carbon Monoxide: Wildfires can generate high levels of carbon monoxide, which can be harmful to human health at high concentrations. Carbon monoxide can reduce the amount of oxygen that is carried by the blood, which can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Ozone: Wildfires can generate high levels of ozone, especially when they occur in areas with high levels of air pollution. Ozone can irritate the lungs and exacerbate respiratory problems.

Visibility: The smoke generated by wildfires can reduce visibility, which can impact transportation and tourism.

Climate Change: Wildfires also contribute to climate change by releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This can contribute to the warming of the planet and can have long-term impacts on air quality and human health.

The threat to air quality from wildfires is significant, and can impact human health, visibility, and climate change. By taking steps to prevent wildfires and reduce their impact when they occur, we can help to protect air quality and ensure the health and well-being of human populations. Learn more about air quality here.

Forest

What’s the Threat?

Wildfire poses a significant threat to forests and wildlife in several ways:

Economic Losses: Wildfires can cause significant economic losses by damaging infrastructure, destroying homes and businesses, and disrupting tourism and recreation activities.

Water Quality: Wildfires can also impact water quality by releasing pollutants into streams and rivers, making it difficult for aquatic life to survive and threatening our drinking water.

Loss of Trees: Wildfires can cause extensive damage to forests, destroying large areas of trees and wildlife habitats. This can result in a loss of biodiversity and negatively impact the ecological balance of the forest.

Soil Erosion: Wildfires can lead to soil erosion as they burn away vegetation and organic matter, leaving the soil exposed to wind and water erosion. This can cause long-term damage to the soil, making it difficult for vegetation to regrow and leading to decreased soil fertility.

Increased Carbon Emissions: When forests burn, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. This can have long-term effects on the planet’s ecosystem and exacerbate global warming.

Wildlife: Wildfires can have a significant impact on wildlife and their habitats, forcing animals to flee to new habitats and those who cannot escape may be killed. This displacement and disruption can lead to conflicts with other animals and humans in search of a new habitat.  Wildfire smoke can also be harmful to animals, like birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Wildfires can have a significant impact on the forest, wildlife and their habitats, with some species more vulnerable than others.

Recreation

What’s the Threat?

Wildfires in Colorado can pose a severe threat to recreation in several ways:

Health risks: Smoke from wildfires can cause respiratory problems and other health risks for recreational users impacting hiking, skiing, biking and all the outdoor activities Coloradans love.

Economic impacts: Wildfires can have significant economic impacts on communities that rely on tourism and recreational activities, such as outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing. This loss can lead to a decline in tourism and related economic activities.

Closure of recreational areas: Wildfires may lead to the closure of recreational areas such as national forests, parks, and campgrounds, which would limit recreational opportunities.

Damage to infrastructure: Wildfires can damage roads, bridges, trails, and other infrastructure that supports recreational activities, making it difficult or impossible for people to access recreational areas.

Loss of scenic beauty: Wildfires can destroy scenic landscapes and natural areas that attract recreational visitors to Colorado.

Water

What is being done?

Several measures are being taken to protect water quality in Colorado from the effects of wildfires:

Pre-fire mitigation efforts: The state and local authorities are working to reduce the risk of wildfires through pre-fire mitigation efforts, such as clearing dead and dry vegetation, creating fire breaks, and improving access for firefighting equipment. This can help reduce the amount of sediment and debris that can enter water sources.

Post-fire emergency response: After a wildfire, emergency responders work to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading further. They also take measures to protect water infrastructure and monitor water quality in affected areas.

Watershed restoration: Watershed restoration efforts are undertaken to mitigate the impact of wildfires on water sources. These efforts include reseeding burned areas with native vegetation, stabilizing soil, and installing erosion control measures.

Monitoring and testing: State and local agencies regularly monitor and test water quality in affected areas to detect any potential contamination and to determine if water treatment processes need to be adjusted to address changes in water quality.

Public education: Public education campaigns are conducted to raise awareness of the potential impacts of wildfires on water quality and to encourage residents to take actions to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect water sources.

These efforts aim to reduce the impact of wildfires on water quality and ensure that residents have access to clean and safe drinking water. 

Air

What is being done?

Several actions are being taken to protect air quality during wildfires:

Monitoring: Air quality monitoring systems are deployed in areas affected by wildfires to measure the concentration of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, and other pollutants in the air. This information is used to inform public health warnings and to guide the deployment of resources to protect vulnerable populations. Here’s a daily air quality summary.

Public Health Warnings: When air quality levels are hazardous, public health warnings are issued to encourage people to stay indoors and avoid exposure to the smoke. These warnings also provide guidance on how to protect against exposure to the pollutants in the air.

Fire Suppression: Efforts to suppress wildfires can help to reduce the amount of smoke generated by the fires, which can help to protect air quality. Additionally, some firefighting techniques, such as the use of water and foam, can help to reduce the amount of particulate matter generated by the fires.

Land Use Planning: Land use planning can help to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect air quality by limiting development in high-risk areas and encouraging the use of fire-resistant building materials.

These efforts can help to reduce the impact of wildfires on air quality and protect human health.

Forest

What is being done?

Many efforts are being made to protect forests and wildlife and prevent wildfires from occurring.

Research: Researchers study the impacts of wildfires on wildlife and their habitats to develop new management strategies and techniques. This research helps to inform future efforts to protect wildlife from the impacts of wildfires.

Forest Management: Forest management practices, such as controlled burning and forest thinning, can help reduce the risk of wildfires. Controlled burns can remove excess fuel (deadwood and underbrush), while thinning can reduce the density of trees, allowing for a more natural and healthy forest. Prescribed burns are set intentionally to reduce the amount of available fuel and prevent large, catastrophic wildfires. By managing the timing, intensity, and location of prescribed burns, wildlife managers can help maintain healthy ecosystems and reduce the risk of wildfires.

Early Detection: Early detection is crucial in preventing wildfires from getting out of control. Many organizations use satellite imagery, drones, and other technology to monitor forest areas for signs of smoke and fire.

Firefighting: Firefighting crews work tirelessly to contain and extinguish wildfires. These crews use a variety of tools and tactics, including water-dropping helicopters and bulldozers, to create firebreaks and prevent the spread of the fire. During active wildfires, wildlife managers work to protect critical habitats and wildlife populations. This can include coordinating with firefighters to create firebreaks around critical habitats, providing water sources for wildlife, and removing animals from harm’s way when possible.

Post-Fire Restoration: After a wildfire, wildlife managers work to restore the habitat by planting vegetation, stabilizing slopes, and controlling invasive species. This helps to promote the recovery of wildlife populations and ensure that the ecosystem functions as it did before the fire.

Education: Educating the public on fire safety and prevention is critical in reducing the risk of wildfires. Organizations provide resources, such as fire prevention tips, evacuation plans, and educational materials, to help individuals prepare for and prevent wildfires.

Policy and Legislation: Policies and legislation can also play a role in protecting forests and preventing wildfires. For example, many areas have implemented fire restrictions during periods of high fire danger, and some states have passed laws requiring homeowners to create defensible space around their homes to reduce the risk of wildfires.

By working to keep our forests safe and protect wildlife from the impacts of wildfires, we can help to maintain healthy ecosystems and promote the recovery of wildlife populations.  Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s priority wildland fire mission is to assist and support local agencies and counties with a range of wildfire management programs including administrative, technical, preparedness and planning, funding, response, and prescribed fire functions.

Recreation

What is being done?

Several efforts are underway to protect recreation from wildfires in Colorado:

Fire prevention and education: Various organizations and agencies are working to raise awareness about fire prevention and the importance of responsible recreation practices to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Forest management practices: Forest management practices, such as thinning and prescribed burns, are being used to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and promote healthy forest ecosystems that support recreational activities.

Fire suppression and management: Fire suppression and management efforts are critical to protecting recreation areas and infrastructure from wildfires. These efforts involve the use of fire crews, aircraft, and other resources to contain and extinguish wildfires as quickly as possible.

Emergency response planning: Emergency response planning is essential to ensure that people can be safely evacuated from recreational areas in the event of a wildfire.

Restoration and rehabilitation: After a wildfire, restoration and rehabilitation efforts are necessary to repair damage to infrastructure and restore natural areas for recreational use.

A combination of fire prevention, suppression, and management strategies, along with emergency response planning and restoration efforts, are being used to protect recreational opportunities from wildfires in Colorado.

Water

Who’s currently taking action?

Several organizations are involved in efforts to protect water quality in Colorado from the impacts of wildfires.

  • Colorado Water Conservation Board: The Colorado Water Conservation Board is a state agency that works to protect and manage Colorado’s water resources. They are involved in a range of initiatives related to water quality and wildfire management, including watershed planning and restoration, monitoring and assessment, and emergency response.

  • Watershed associations: Watershed associations are community-based organizations that work to protect and restore local water resources. They are involved in a range of activities, including education and outreach, monitoring and assessment, and restoration and management. Learn more about Watershed Protection from the Watershed Assembly.

  • University research centers: University research centers, such as the Center for Watershed Science at Colorado State University, conduct research and provide expertise on a range of topics related to water quality and wildfire management.

  • Environmental nonprofits: Environmental nonprofits, such as the Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Nature Conservancy, work to protect natural resources and promote conservation and sustainability. They are involved in a range of activities related to water quality and wildfire management, including advocacy, research, and education.

  • Local government agencies: Local government agencies, such as county and municipal governments, are responsible for managing water resources and responding to emergencies related to wildfires and other natural disasters. They work closely with state and federal agencies, as well as community organizations and residents, to protect water quality and ensure access to clean and safe drinking water. State Water Agencies and External Water Quality Resources help with this effort.

  • The Water Quality Control Division monitors and reports on the quality of state waters to prevent water pollution, protect, restore and enhance the quality of surface and groundwater while ensuring that all drinking water systems provide safe drinking water. We inspect water systems, issue permits, ensure compliance, and take action against entities who violate state and federal regulations. We work in partnership with utilities, counties, and other agencies to oversee, improve, and maintain quality drinking, surface, and ground water.

Air

Who’s currently taking action?

Protecting air quality during wildfires is a collaborative effort that involves several organizations and agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. Here are some examples of organizations that are involved in this work:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA is responsible for monitoring air quality across the United States and developing regulations to protect air quality. During wildfires, the EPA works with local and state agencies to provide air quality monitoring and guidance.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The NOAA provides weather forecasts and warnings, which can help to inform decisions related to wildfire management and air quality protection.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): FEMA provides resources and funding to support emergency response and recovery efforts, including those related to wildfires and air quality.

National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC): The NIFC coordinates wildfire management efforts across federal, state, and local agencies, and provides resources and support for fire suppression and air quality protection.

State and Local Health Departments: State and local health departments are responsible for monitoring air quality and issuing public health warnings during wildfires. They also provide guidance on how to protect against exposure to smoke and other pollutants.

Protecting air quality during wildfires is a coordinated effort that involves multiple agencies and organizations at the local, state, and federal levels. By working together, these organizations can help to reduce the impact of wildfires on air quality and protect the health and well-being of human populations.

To learn more about who’s taking action across Colorado, check out our Directory of Wildfire Stakeholders.

Forest

Who’s currently taking action?

There are several organizations and agencies taking action in Colorado to protect forests, protect wildlife and prevent wildfires:

Colorado State Forest Service: The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) is a state agency that works to manage and protect forests in Colorado. CSFS provides technical assistance, grants, and education to private landowners, communities, and other agencies to promote forest health and wildfire prevention.

Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control: The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) is responsible for coordinating and implementing wildfire prevention and suppression activities across the state. DFPC provides training, equipment, and resources to local fire departments and communities.

U.S. Forest Service: The U.S. Forest Service manages several national forests in Colorado, including the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, the White River National Forest, and the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. The Forest Service works to promote forest health, prevent wildfires, and manage fire when it does occur.

National Park Service: The National Park Service (NPS) manages over 400 national parks and works to protect and preserve wildlife and their habitats. This includes managing prescribed fires and responding to wildfires to protect wildlife and their habitats.

Non-Profit Organizations: Several non-profit organizations in Colorado work to protect forests and prevent wildfires. The Colorado Firecamp, for example, provides training and education to firefighters and first responders, while the Colorado State Firefighters Association advocates for policies and legislation to improve fire safety and prevention. Numerous nonprofit organizations also work to protect wildlife and their habitats from the impacts of wildfires. These organizations include the the Colorado State Firefighters Association, Wildlife Conservation Society and the Nature Conservancy.

Department of Natural Resources: The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program is designed to quickly move $17.5 million State stimulus dollars to start on-the-ground work on fuels reduction projects and increase Colorado’s capacity to conduct critical forest restoration and wildfire mitigation work that will increase community resilience and protect life, property and infrastructure.

Fire Adapted Colorado (FACO): Fire Adapted Colorado is connecting, empowering, supporting, and valuing the mitigation specialists who are actively pursuing community and residential mitigation strategies, landscape treatments, post-wildfire recovery efforts, watershed protection treatments and other efforts across the state.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) works to conserve and protect wildlife and their habitats across the United States. This includes managing and restoring habitats that have been impacted by wildfires.

Through collaboration and cooperation, these groups can help ensure the long-term health and vitality of Colorado’s forests.

To learn more about who’s taking action across Colorado, check out our Directory of Wildfire Stakeholders.

Recreation

Who’s currently taking action?

Several organizations and agencies are taking action to help protect recreation from wildfires in Colorado:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Colorado Parks and Wildlife is responsible for managing state parks and other recreational areas in Colorado. They work to raise awareness about fire prevention and provide education on responsible recreation practices.

U.S. Forest Service: The U.S. Forest Service manages national forests and grasslands in Colorado, which provide recreational opportunities for millions of visitors each year. They are responsible for fire suppression and management efforts in these areas and work to restore and rehabilitate areas affected by wildfires.

Bureau of Land Management: The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for managing public lands in Colorado, which provide a range of recreational opportunities. They work to prevent and suppress wildfires on these lands and promote responsible recreation practices.

Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control: The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control provides wildfire response services and manages a variety of fire prevention and mitigation programs. They work to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and protect communities, infrastructure, and recreational areas.

Nonprofit organizations: Several nonprofit organizations are working to raise awareness about fire prevention and promote responsible recreation practices. They also support restoration and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by wildfires.

A range of organizations and agencies are involved in efforts to protect our way of life from wildfires in Colorado. They work together to reduce the risk of wildfires, promote responsible recreation practices, and safeguard recreational opportunities for visitors to Colorado’s public lands. Learn more about the organizations taking action here.

Water

How does this impact me?

The impact of wildfires on water quality in Colorado can have several potential implications for you, depending on where you live and how you use water.

Drinking water: If you rely on municipal water supplies or private wells for drinking water, contamination from wildfire ash, sediment, and debris can pose a risk to your health. Water treatment facilities may need to adjust their treatment processes to address changes in water quality, and residents may need to take extra precautions to ensure their drinking water is safe.

Recreational activities: If you enjoy recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, or boating in lakes, rivers, or streams, you may be impacted by wildfire-related contamination. Sediment and debris can reduce water clarity, make it more difficult to fish, and pose hazards for swimmers and boaters.

Agriculture: Agricultural operations that rely on water sources affected by wildfires may face challenges related to water quality, such as changes in nutrient levels, increased sedimentation, and potential contamination from wildfire ash and debris

Economic impact: Wildfires can have economic impacts on communities, such as damage to infrastructure, loss of tourism revenue, and increased costs for emergency response and restoration efforts.

Here are some resources if you think your water may have been affected.

Air

How does this impact me?

Protecting air quality during wildfires is a collaborative effort that involves several organizations and agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. Here are some examples of organizations that are involved in this work:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA is responsible for monitoring air quality across the United States and developing regulations to protect air quality. During wildfires, the EPA works with local and state agencies to provide air quality monitoring and guidance.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The NOAA provides weather forecasts and warnings, which can help to inform decisions related to wildfire management and air quality protection.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): FEMA provides resources and funding to support emergency response and recovery efforts, including those related to wildfires and air quality.

National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC): The NIFC coordinates wildfire management efforts across federal, state, and local agencies, and provides resources and support for fire suppression and air quality protection.

State and Local Health Departments: State and local health departments are responsible for monitoring air quality and issuing public health warnings during wildfires. They also provide guidance on how to protect against exposure to smoke and other pollutants.

Protecting air quality during wildfires is a coordinated effort that involves multiple agencies and organizations at the local, state, and federal levels. By working together, these organizations can help to reduce the impact of wildfires on air quality and protect the health and well-being of human populations.

Forest

How does this impact me?

Wildfires can have a significant impact on individuals and communities in various ways:

Health: Wildfires produce smoke and other pollutants that can cause respiratory problems, especially for people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma. Smoke can also irritate eyes and cause headaches.

Property Damage: Wildfires can cause extensive property damage, including the destruction of homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Even if your property is not directly affected by the fire, the smoke and ash can cause damage to your belongings.

Displacement: Wildfires can force people to evacuate their homes and communities, potentially causing disruptions in work, school, and other aspects of daily life. Evacuations can also be emotionally and psychologically stressful.

Economic Impact: Wildfires can have significant economic impacts, such as loss of property value, damage to infrastructure, and loss of revenue for businesses that rely on tourism and recreation.

Environmental Impact: Wildfires can have a long-term impact on the environment, including damage to wildlife habitats, soil erosion, and reduced water quality.

Ecological Challenges: Wildlife plays a critical role in providing ecological services, such as pollination, pest control, and nutrient cycling. When wildlife populations are impacted by wildfires, the provision of these services can be disrupted, which can impact the health and productivity of ecosystems.

Recreation and Tourism: Many people enjoy recreational activities like hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. When wildlife populations are impacted by wildfires, these activities may be less enjoyable or may not be possible in some areas, which can impact the tourism industry.

Hunting and Fishing: Hunting and fishing are important activities for many people, and wildlife populations are a key component of these activities. When wildlife populations are impacted by wildfires, the availability of game and fish may be reduced, which can impact the hunting and fishing industries.

Food and Medicine: Many species of wildlife are used for food or medicine by humans, and the loss of these species can impact the availability of these resources.

Cultural and Spiritual Significance: Forests and Wildlife have cultural and spiritual significance for many communities, and the loss of these species can impact the cultural and spiritual well-being of these communities.                                                                                                                                                    

Recreation

How does this impact me?

If you are someone who enjoys outdoor recreation in Colorado, the impact of wildfires could potentially affect you in several ways:

Limitation of Recreational Opportunities: Wildfires may lead to the closure of recreational areas, such as national forests and parks, ski resorts and more which can limit the opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Health Risks: Smoke from wildfires can cause respiratory problems and other health risks for people taking part in recreational activities. This can be particularly concerning for people with preexisting health conditions or those who are sensitive to smoke.

Economic impacts: If you own a business that relies on tourism and recreational activities in Colorado, such as a hotel, restaurant, or recreational rental service, the loss of recreational opportunities due to wildfires can lead to a decline in tourism and related economic activities.

Disruption of Travel Plans: If you have planned a trip to Colorado for outdoor recreation, the closure of recreational areas due to wildfires may disrupt your travel plans and require you to make alternate arrangements.

It’s important to stay informed about nearby fires and smoke alerts in Colorado and to take appropriate precautions, such as checking air quality reports, following fire restrictions, and monitoring road closures and other advisories. Here’s a guide to inform you about ways you can prepare and protect your family.

Water

How do I get involved?

There are several ways you can get involved in efforts to protect water quality in Colorado from the impacts of wildfires:

Support local organizations: Consider supporting local organizations that work to protect water resources, such as watershed associations, conservation groups, or environmental nonprofits. You can volunteer your time, donate money, or participate in events and activities. You can find some local organizations with our Wildfire Stakeholder Directory.

Be informed: Stay informed about the potential impacts of wildfires on water quality in your area. Follow local news and government agencies on social media to stay up to date on developments and learn about opportunities for public involvement.

Take action: Take steps to reduce the risk of wildfires in your area, such as creating defensible space around your home, properly disposing of flammable materials, and reporting any signs of a potential wildfire to local authorities. Here are some guides to help with this.

Practice water conservation: Conserving water is an important way to protect water resources and reduce the risk of water scarcity during times of drought or other challenges. You can take simple steps such as fixing leaks, reducing outdoor water use, and installing water-efficient fixtures.

Participate in community planning: Participate in community planning efforts related to land use and natural resource management. Your input can help shape policies and practices that protect water quality and natural resources for future generations. Check out the Colorado Water Conservation Board website to find some ways to get involved.

By getting involved, you can help protect the natural resources that are vital to the health and well-being of our communities and our planet.

Air

How do I get involved?

There are several ways you can get involved in protecting air quality during wildfires and supporting wildfire prevention efforts:

Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date on local air quality conditions during wildfires by checking the air quality index (AQI) in your area. You can also sign up for alerts and notifications from your local health department or air quality agency.

Reduce Your Exposure: To reduce your exposure to smoke and other pollutants during wildfires, stay indoors with windows and doors closed, use air purifiers with HEPA filters, and avoid outdoor activities when air quality is poor.

Support Wildfire Prevention Efforts: You can support efforts to prevent wildfires by practicing safe fire practices when camping or using outdoor equipment, reporting wildfires as soon as possible, and supporting policies that promote forest management and wildfire prevention.

Volunteer: You can volunteer with organizations that support wildfire prevention and response efforts, such as the National Forest Foundation, the American Red Cross, or local fire departments.

Advocate: Contact your local, state, and federal representatives to express your concerns about the impacts of wildfires on air quality and support policies that promote wildfire prevention and forest management. Find your Legislators here.

By taking action, you can help to protect the health and well-being of your community and support efforts to protect our natural resources.

Recreation

How do I get involved?

Help protect outdoor recreation from wildfires in Colorado:

Volunteer with a local organization: Many organizations in Colorado work to promote fire prevention and responsible recreation practices. Consider volunteering with a local nonprofit to help raise awareness and promote conservation efforts.

Learn about fire prevention: Educate yourself about fire prevention and responsible recreation practices. You can find information on the websites of organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, and Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Support restoration and rehabilitation efforts: After a wildfire, restoration and rehabilitation efforts are necessary to repair damage to infrastructure and restore natural areas for recreational use. Consider supporting organizations that work to restore and rehabilitate areas affected by wildfires, such as the Fire Adapted Colorado, Northern Colorado Fireshed Collaborative or the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative.

Advocate for policies that promote conservation: Contact your elected officials and advocate for policies that promote conservation and responsible recreation practices. This may include supporting funding for wildfire prevention and suppression efforts, promoting responsible tourism practices, or supporting forest management policies that reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

Stay informed and prepared: Stay informed about fire restrictions, closures, and other advisories in areas where you plan to recreate. Be prepared to change your plans if necessary and follow guidelines to help prevent wildfires, such as properly disposing of cigarette butts and avoiding campfires during fire restrictions.

By taking action, you can help promote responsible recreation practices and protect the natural resources that make Colorado such a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Forest

How do I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved in efforts to prevent wildfires and protect forests. Every individual can make a difference by taking steps to reduce the risk of wildfire and promote forest health.

Learn: Educate yourself about wildfire prevention and forest management. Resources are available from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and local fire departments. This knowledge can help you take steps to protect your property and community.

Volunteer: Many organizations rely on volunteers to assist with fire prevention activities, such as clearing brush, maintaining fire breaks, and monitoring forest areas for signs of fire. Look for volunteer opportunities with local fire departments, forest management agencies, or non-profit organizations that focus on wildfire prevention.

Donate: Consider donating to organizations that support forest management and wildfire prevention efforts. These organizations rely on financial support to provide resources, training, and education to individuals and communities.

Participate in Community Efforts: Participate in local firewise communities, attend town hall meetings to discuss fire prevention strategies, and advocate for policies that support forest management and wildfire prevention. Share information about how people can reduce the risk of wildfires by properly disposing of cigarettes, being cautious when using campfires, and using fireworks in designated areas. Encourage your community to take steps to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect wildlife habitats.

Be Prepared: Take steps to reduce the risk of wildfires around your home. Clear dead leaves and branches from your yard, maintain a fire-safe roof, and use fire-resistant landscaping. By taking these steps, you can help protect not only your property but also the wildlife in your area. You should also ensure that your insurance policies are up to date, and have an emergency plan in place for your family and pets.

Support Legislation: Advocate for legislation that helps protect the forest and wildlife from wildfires. Contact your elected officials and voice your support for measures that address wildfire prevention, response, and recovery.

Every individual can make a difference by taking steps to reduce the risk of wildfire and promote forest health. Learn more about how you can get involved in your community from the organizations listed here.

Wildfire Resilience in Action

Chartered by Congress, the National Forest Foundation was created with a simple mission: bring people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands. As Sr. Director of Conservation Programs at National Forest Foundation, Emily Olson is responsible for leading and supporting their conservation activities across U.S. Forest Service Regions 1 (Northern), 2 (Rocky Mountain), 4 (Intermountain), 5 (Pacific Southwest), and 8 (Southern). In Colorado, Emily helps oversee their strategic plan as well as their current projects and campaigns, including Wood for Life (WFL) and many forest health and wildfire resilience projects across the state (with the Wilder-Highlands Mountain Pine Beetle Response Project being one example).

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Data-led Decision-Making for Wildfire Restoration

Rob Addington is the Director of the Forest and Fire Program with The Nature Conservancy in Colorado.  He and his team are focused on increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration in Colorado to reduce hazardous fuels and promote landscape resilience to natural disturbances such as wildfire as well as climate change.  Much of this work is completed in partnership with agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado State Forest Service, and other non-governmental organizations. 

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Catalyzing the community to keep Chaffee County special

Cindy Williams, Co-lead of Envision, Chaffee County, currently facilitates and leads three community convener programs for Envision Chaffee County that address quality-of-life concerns identified by residents: the Next Generation Community Wildfire Protection Plan convened by Chaffee County government; the Keep Working Lands Working program that supports sustainable agriculture and rural landscapes; and Envision Recreation in Balance, a program that manages outdoor recreation growth impacts.

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Evergreen:

Evergreen ranks #1 in Colorado and in the top 10 nationally for catastrophic wildfire with the potential for significant loss of life. It ranks higher than 99% of communities in the US for wildfire risk.

Evergreen is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which is a fire-prone region due to the dry climate and abundance of vegetation. The area is also characterized by steep slopes and narrow canyons, which can make it difficult to access and contain fires. The area around Evergreen has a high density of trees and other vegetation, which can serve as fuel for wildfires. Additionally, the bark beetle epidemic that has affected many forests in Colorado has left large areas of dead and dry trees, further increasing the risk of wildfire.

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Boulder:

Boulder has a high risk of wildfire—higher than 80% of communities in the US.

Boulder is located in a semi-arid region of Colorado, which means it is susceptible to droughts and high temperatures. These conditions can create a tinderbox of dry fuels that are easily ignited by lightning, sparks from equipment, or other sources. Boulder is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which are characterized by steep slopes, canyons, and ravines. This topography can create wind channels that increase the intensity and spread of wildfires, and can also make it difficult for firefighters to access and contain fires. As Boulder has grown, more homes and other structures have been built in areas that are prone to wildfires. These structures can increase the risk of ignition during a wildfire and can also make it more difficult to fight the fire. Boulder is also a classic example of a wildland-urban interface, where natural areas and developed areas meet. This can increase the risk of ignition, as sparks from power lines, campfires, or other sources can easily spread to nearby homes and structures.

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Colorado Springs:

Colorado Springs has a high risk of wildfire—higher than 77% of communities in the US.

Colorado Springs is located in a semi-arid region of Colorado, which means it experiences long periods of hot, dry weather. These conditions can lead to drought, which dries out vegetation and makes it more susceptible to fire. The Colorado Springs area includes several canyons, hills, and valleys that are covered in vegetation, such as the Pike National Forest. These areas are often difficult to access and contain during a wildfire.

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“Our forests and communities are under enormous threat. We need to identify solutions that match the scale and magnitude of the problem.”

— Harris Sherman,
Former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment,
US Department of Agriculture and co-Chair, Forest Trends Board of Directors.

Forest Trends was founded with the mission of putting an economic engine behind nature conservation – the idea being that our economy, our society, and our wellbeing all depend in very real and material ways on healthy natural ecosystems. They’re helping the next generation of leaders and institutions to accelerate climate solutions and partnering with indigenous and local communities to thrive in the new green economy. Forest Trends’ strategy relies on targeted outreach and convening diverse coalitions to build a shared understanding of assets at risk, identify areas of mutual interest, and build out innovative partnership investment strategies. 

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