Western Water Workshop — Planning for the new normal — recap


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Hannah Holm):

Attendees of the Colorado Water Workshop in Gunnison July 17-19 heard sobering news about the long-term, devastating impacts expected from the West Fork Fire complex east of Alamosa in the San Juan and Rio Grande national forests.

The fires are burning in an area hard hit by beetle kill, with many dead trees. Despite previous scientific disagreements about how beetle kill would affect wildfire behavior, anecdotal evidence suggests that areas with extensive beetle kill burn with much greater thoroughness and intensity than areas with healthy trees. This appears to be the case with the West Fork Fire complex.

The 100,000+ acres the complex has burned so far encompass the headwaters of the Rio Grande River, in a basin even harder hit by drought in recent years than the rest of Colorado.

And now the monsoon rains are here: Good for putting out fires, but problematic in other ways. Hard rain hitting burned over ground can create tremendous destruction: Land slides and loads of sediment and debris choking streams, reservoirs and other water infrastructure on which downstream communities depend.

More education coverage here.

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