Fire’s Role in Watershed Health

Your Water Colorado Blog

Wildfire1 Wildfire in an overcrowded forest. Photo by Todd Heitkamp.

Being evacuated due to wildfires was a rather regular part of my childhood in the Colorado Rockies. The sight of the sun burning scarlet in a hazy sky and the thick smell of the smoky air are all too familiar. From the Buffalo Creek Fire (1996) to the Hayman Fire (2002) to the Lower North Fork Fire (2012) and more, my family and community have weathered many fires, some better than others. From my own experiences, I can empathize with the people who have had to evacuate for the Beaver Creek, Cold Springs, and Hayden Pass Fires that are all burning in Colorado right now. 

It wasn’t until I took ecology courses in college that I began to think about how different types of fires mean very different things for ecosystem health. The fact that wildfires have dramatic effects on watershed…

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