The recent spring rains may lull you into thinking there won't be much of a fire season. And there may not be - this summer. But fast forward to next June and think about how much more fuel is on the ground because of this year's rains. Southwest Colorado didn't experience much of a fire season the past two years, but the grasses, those fine fuels that can really carry a fire, were a good foot shorter.
You've all heard that it's not a matter of if a wildfire will happen, but when.
This year it will be imperative to mow those tall grasses as they dry out, especially in the 30 feet surrounding your home and outbuildings. A wildfire moving through grass may reach your home in just a matter of minutes, well before your fire department can.
You may also be experiencing a new crop of weeds as the rains provided nourishment for seeds that had been dormant in the ground. Infestations of weeds may show up in mitigated areas, especially those that were brush-hogged or masticated.
Our fire season will be dictated by when the monsoons arrive. Already the moisture levels in the grasses and trees are declining. A month of warm, dry temperatures could leave us very ripe for a wildfire. It might just happen a few weeks later in July instead of middle or late June.
One preparation that doesn't change from year to year is the need for an evacuation plan. A "go bag" will tide you over for 48 to 72 hours is essential. Then, depending on whether you are a lumper or splitter, think of the "Ps" of preparedness: people and pets, prescriptions, papers, pictures, and personal computer or phone.
If your community is not already engaged in wildfire preparations, bring the subject up at your next Homeowners Association meeting or get your neighbors together. Invite FireWise, the Colorado State Forest Service, or your local fire department to come speak with residents - all have information to share and suggestions on getting started.
Need more incentive? Give us a call. New FireWise ambassadors for can receive a free Community Assessment and the opportunity to apply for a Kickstart grant for a community mitigation project. We can assist with the development of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which outlines your wildfire risk and actions you can take to reduce that risk.
Pam Wilson is the executive director for FireWise of Southwest Colorado and can be reached at 970-385-8909 or email@example.com.