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The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Officials warn that PitCo is 'primed for wildfire'

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio News

Pitkin County commissioners approved an update to the county’s hazard mitigation plan Wednesday. It comes as officials are preparing for a dry, hot summer and increased wildfire danger.

Valerie MacDonald is Pitkin County’s emergency manager. She told commissioners at a meeting Wednesday that the county has been fortunate, as it has not experienced any major natural disasters, but that could change.

“We are overdue, and we are perfectly primed for a catastrophic wildfire here,” she said.

The hazard mitigation plan lays out actions to help the government prevent and prepare for natural disasters, like landslides, flooding and wildfire. With low snowpack and projections for drought this summer, wildfire is a major concern, and MacDonald said it’s not enough that the county is prepared.

“If there's a catastrophic event here, local government will not be able to do it alone," she said. "We are going to need a public that is prepared to take action.”

That means developing an emergency plan and knowing possible evacuation routes.


Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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