Council brings megafire documentary to raise awareness of fire likeliness in Grand County |

Council brings megafire documentary to raise awareness of fire likeliness in Grand County

A wildfire rages through Byers Canyon during the Byers Canyon Rifle Range fire of 2015.
File photo

Wildfire season has pretty much arrived and, to raise awareness about the potential dangers it poses, Grand County’s Wildfire Council is bringing a unique documentary film to Middle Park next month.

On June 2, the documentary film, “The Era of Megafires,” will be shown at the Foundry Cinema & Bowl in Fraser. The film, which will begin showing at 11 a.m., is a 60-minute film presentation featuring Paul Hessburg who works as a research landscape ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service at the Pacific Northwest Research Station.

The presentation covers wildfire activity over the past decade and notes that the number of large and severe wildfires has been on the rise. The film defines megafires as wildfires that burn more than 100,000 acres and can destroy or severely damage human communities, wildlife habitat, and natural resources.

The film also highlights a particularly timely topic involving the conditions that lead to megafires and how they might be managed or mitigated.

“A future without wildfire isn’t an option,” Hessburg stated. “So, what kind of future do we want for our forests? The goal of this project is to share a vocabulary and increase the understanding and ability of ordinary citizens so that they can enter into local discussions and planning for a more certain future for public forest lands.”

Discussions of wildfires and the conditions that precipitate them are especially pertinent in Grand County as summer approaches and the danger of wildfires rises.

“The issues we face in Grand County regarding wildfire are real,” said Schelly Olson of Grand Fire and the Grand County Wildfire Council. “We have more and more people moving to the mountains, building their homes in forested areas and expecting that the fire departments will have enough resources to save those homes.”

Olson noted that fire is a natural part of the county’s ecosystem and stressed the need for individuals to take personal responsibility for their own property by taking a proactive approach toward fire adaptation.

“The film is a great discussion about the contributing factors to these large-scale fires, including forest management, local policies, and individual engagement,” stated Olson.

Grand County is no stranger to significant wildfires. Since 2010 Middle Park has experienced three wildfire incidents that burned significant acreage and threatened large numbers of homes and structures. In Oct. 2010 the Church Park Fire burned up several hundred acres of land in the Arapaho National Forest a short distance west of Fraser. In 2015 the Byers Canyon Rifle Range Fire torched portions of Byers Canyon and threatened Hot Sulphur Springs. In 2016 the Gore Range Fire west of Kremmling threatened homes and ranches in a section of forested hillsides north of the Colorado River.

The Wildfire Council will also be hosting the first community chipping day on June 2 as well, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the East Grand Fire station located at 77601 Highway 40 in Winter Park.

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