You are hereDrought creates challenges for wildfire prevention in Boulder
Drought creates challenges for wildfire prevention in Boulder
The March 26 Lower North Fork Fire consumed approximately 4,140 acres, and damaged or ruined 27 homes in Jefferson County. Three people were also killed in the fire. It seems that this fire opened the 2012 fire season in Colorado.
Back in Boulder, Boulder County crews doused two wildfires that occurred in the Lefthand Canyon and Overload areas On March 24. Less than one acre was burned and no casualties were reported.
Boulder Fire Management Officer Jay Stalnacker said that both these two fires appeared to be human caused, though the reasons are unknown. Fortunately, the fire crew responded well and eventually contained the fires with the help of public volunteers.
With these two fires, people can’t help but be reminded of the 2010 Four Mile Canyon fire in Boulder. The fire burned an area of 6,000 acres and destroyed more than 170 homes. It directly impacted hundreds of people, causing them to evacuate their homes.
After two years have passed, the situation in this area has improved greatly and the restoration work is well underway. The burned areas were planted with seeds, and helicopters transported straw to cover the surface of the seriously burned area to prevent erosion.
"Boulder County Parks and Open Space is administrating the lands here, doing whatever they can do to help to eliminate the potential of erosion and at the same time bring back some re-vegetation and native grasses and try to restore the land to the pre-fire condition," said Bryan Burr, the owner of Mountain West Helicopter.
People's daily lives are also getting back to normal.
"I Love it here and it is my home. I think it just keep getting better, it's going to be okay," Stephanie O’Hearn, a victim of Four Mile Canyon Fire in 2010, said.
Now the Four Mile Canyon area is on its way to restoration from the disaster. However, the current drought situation in Boulder creates even more challenges in preventing wildfires.
Climatologists at Colorado State University reported that 98% of Colorado is experiencing varying levels of drought conditions this year.
The city of Boulder has experienced the driest March in recorded history with only .01 inches of rain recorded, and no measurable snowfall. The previous record low was .05 inches of rain in 1910.
By the middle of April, there has been 1.27 inches of precipitation and only 0.1 inches of snow. But the drought situation is not alleviated much, as precipitation is just one of the water feeders for Boulder. Snowpack is another crucial feeder for water resources.
“Colorado, especially towards south, we were less than 15 percent of the average at the same time of this year. The very low snowpack, which means when the snow melts, there is going to be not much water going into reservoirs like we would see in a typical year," Matthew Kelsh, meteorologist in UCAR said.
Matt suggested a water restriction for the public in Boulder. He said that doing restrictions now is a good idea, so that if Boulder continues to have a dry period, especially next winter, then the reservoirs would not be so low.
The dry conditions and expected high winds prompted Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle to enact the fire ban across Boulder County. Due to the pessimistic precipitations, the open fire ban will continue through the remaining of April and maybe May, except for agricultural purpose.
Fire management officials also remind the public to raise wildfire awareness and report any hazard that may cause wildfire to the police.