The forests in Hinsdale County have a history of wildfire. If you have spent time wandering through the San Juan mountains, you may have noticed charred stumps and trees scattered throughout these hills. Wildfire is a part of the natural cycle, shaping our forests for thousands of years. With huge tracts of remote land, we cannot possibly suppress all fires, nor would we want to if we are to keep forest ecosystems vibrant and healthy. However, if we are to live alongside wildfire, we must protect ourselves and property from the devastating effects fire may bring. It is not a matter of if we are going to see a wildfire in Hinsdale County, it is a matter of when and how we will prepare
for and manage this coming event.
Over the summer of 2010 a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) was developed to address our county's need to better understand and prepare for a wildfire event. A Core Team made up from Colorado State Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Hinsdale County Sheriff, Hinsdale County Emergency Medical Services, Lake City Fire District, Silver Thread Public Health District and local residents oversaw this process while working with Forester Jim Webb, who put together the plan. The CWPP includes information on response to wildfire, hazard identification and mitigation action, community preparedness, safety zones, structure protection and much more. There also are maps identifying areas and structures in Hinsdale County that are at risk.
We are fortunate in Hinsdale County to have a wonderful mosaic of forests. As you look around you may see aspen, spruce/fir, mixed conifer and other types of forests. Unlike many counties in Colorado, we will not likely see all of these types of forests decline at once. Currently, we are seeing large tracts of forests dead and dying from spruce bark beetle attack. We have also seen pockets of Mountain Pine Beetle in and around Lake City in Ponderosa Pines. Other forest insects and disease are also present here in Hinsdale County. Although it is difficult for most of us to see our trees die and forests change in such dramatic ways, this is a natural process and new trees and forests will replace the old.
Given that all residents and property owners in Hinsdale County will be affected by a wildfire event, we hope that you will take interest and the time in learning how you might better prepare yourself and our community. A downloadable version of the CWPP is available at the above link, and hard copies are available at the Lake City Fire Department, Hinsdale County Administrative Office and the Lake City Public Library.
For more information please contact Hinsdale County Administration at (970) 944-2225