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Luke Runyon / KUNC

Record-breaking wildfires in 2020 turned huge swaths of Western forests into barren burn scars. Those forests store winter snowpack that millions of people rely on for drinking and irrigation water. But with such large and wide-reaching fires, the science on the short-term and long-term effects to the region’s water supplies isn’t well understood.

Major wildfires have burned through the Western U.S. in 2020, breaking records for their scale and damage. As firefighters tamp down their immediate effects, those who live nearby are coming to grips with the lingering danger of wildfires. Even long after the flames are gone, residents face a serious increase in the threat of flooding.

Jim Peako / National Park Service


National Park Service hydrologist Erin White likes to call Yellowstone “America’s first water park.” 


It’s home to the headwaters of multiple major rivers and hundreds of waterfalls. Thousands of geysers, mudpots, and hot springs—heated by an underground supervolcano—gush, bubble, and boil in the national park’s 2.2 million acres, too.


Eleanor Bennett / Aspen Public Radio

As temperatures rise and wildfires continue to burn across the West, many in Colorado are turning their attention to fire prevention. There's a woman who comes to the Roaring Fork Valley every year known as the "goat gypsy." Lani Malmberg and her herd of 1,200 Spanish cashmere goats help with fire mitigation, land restoration and weed control on private and public lands across all 13 Western states. 

Grizzly Creek Fire Facebook Page

A recent study from the University of Colorado Boulder found that forests in the southern Rocky Mountains are becoming less resilient in the wake of wildfires. 

“In the last fifty years, fires have, on average, become larger. And with larger fires, we have larger areas that are tree-less,” said the lead author of the study Kyle Rodman.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

More than a million federal dollars could be sent to Glenwood Springs for emergency builds around watershed infrastructure. The National Resources Conservation Service approved the first batch of $5 million in Emergency Watershed Protection funds last week, with funding headed to Garfield, Mesa, Larimer and Grand Counties. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Imagine you’re sitting at home one day and the notice comes in – a wildfire is bearing down on your house and you have to evacuate. In the course of the next few minutes, you have a to pack a bag and hit the road. What do you bring? 

U.S. Forest Service

Pueden encontrar la versión en español aqui.

The Grizzly Creek Fire is more than 29,000 acres and still growing. A wildfire that size requires a lot of people power and equipment, but with dozens of fires burning across the west, how do national fire agencies divvy up resources to the people who need them?

via Glenwood Springs Fire Department

UPDATED Friday, 6:00 p.m. -  The Mile Marker 111 fire has been contained. Fire crews are wrapping up their work on scene. I-70 is open with no more expected delays. 

Glenwood Springs Fire Department

Battling a wildfire is no small task, but coordinating response during a pandemic adds an extra layer of challenges. Sunday night’s two-acre blaze in the Three Mile area of Glenwood Springs was not big enough to bring about those challenges, but gave emergency officials a chance to assess what could have happened had the fire spread further.

Three Mile Fire Under Control, Officials Say

Jul 12, 2020
Glenwood Springs Fire Department

Monday, July 13 - 4:30 A.M.

The Glenwood Springs Fire Department, with the help of other local crews, was able to control a two-acre wildfire in the Three Mile area around 11 p.m. Sunday evening. 

Aspen Fire Department Unveils Wildfire Risk Map

Jun 1, 2020
Screenshot from Wildfire Adapted Communities Project

The Aspen Fire Protection District has a new online tool to help residents find out how vulnerable their houses might be to wildfire. An interactive online map rates areas for their general wildfire risk and structures for their individual fire vulnerability.

Eric Lovgren / Eagle County Wildfire Mitigation

new report on last year’s Lake Christine fire found that, while firefighters saved homes in the El Jebel mobile home park and Missouri Heights areas, mitigation played a significant role as well; however, making properties more resistant to wildfire requires investments from local communities and homeowners.



Eric Lovgren, Eagle County Wildfire Mitigation Coordinator

A new study on the Lake Christine fire finds that wildfire mitigation, like using flame-resistant construction materials and clearing vegetation around homes, played a significant role in saving property. 


The study, by the Community Wildfire Planning Center, was presented to the Eagle County board of commissioners by wildfire mitigation coordinator Eric Lovgren on Tuesday.


Middle Mamm Fire Updates

Oct 4, 2019
Chip Griffith / Courtesy Photo

12:20 p.m. October 7 - More Resources Used To Suppress Middle Mamm Fire

Firefighters are focusing efforts on constructing and improving containment lines in all areas that threaten private property. Authorities say fire managers will use retardant, bucket drops, and other direct and indirect tactics to suppress the fire’s movement.

Recent winds have been predominantly from the southwest, pushing the fire north. On the southern sections, crews are focusing efforts to suppress sections adjacent to private properties. Officials say they will not put firefighters at risk to suppress fire that remains on National Forest System Lands. 

USDA Forest Service

As some prepare for camping or barbecues over Labor Day weekend, forest officials are reminding residents and visitors to take steps to prevent wildfires.



White River National Forest officials said the number of human-caused wildfires spike over Labor Day weekend.

Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

Carbondale residents could see smoke from prescribed burns this spring.


Pitkin County, the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are combining forces to burn up to 300 acres east of Highway 133 in Avalanche Creek.


Air Time - Oct. 17, 2018

Oct 17, 2018

This is Air Time, extended conversations with interesting people.

Small Wildfire Burns In Holland Hills

Sep 27, 2018
Courtesy of Christy Rose

A small wildfire broke out Thursday in the Holland Hills area near Basalt. Officials believe it started because of an electrical issue.

Wildfires Are Changing: How Communities Can Respond

Sep 26, 2018
Courtesy photo

National Geographic science writer Gary Ferguson has documented how wildfires are getting bigger, hotter and more dangerous. The author of “Land on Fire” is in the Roaring Fork Valley this week discussing the role of climate change in shifting fire behavior and sharing insights about how communities can respond and prepare.

Funds Available For Fire Mitigation Projects

Sep 25, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

The Colorado State Forest Service is looking to help local governments, homeowners’ associations and utilities reduce wildfire risks.

Experts To Discuss 'Changing Face Of Wildfire'

Sep 21, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

Local and national wildfire experts are gathering in the Roaring Fork Valley this week for a series of panel discussions.

CO Sees More Air Quality Monitors With Increase In Wildfires

Aug 23, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

As fires burn in Colorado and across the west, Roaring Fork communities have frequently been under health advisories for air quality because of smoke.

Fire 'Resets' Landscape; Scientists Analyze Risk Of Floods, Mudslides

Aug 3, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

It’s been a few weeks since the Lake Christine Fire tore along the hillsides above Basalt and El Jebel. The flames are gone, but the evidence of the fire is clear on the blackened landscape. It’s a haunting change from the usual green or gold slopes; newspaper columnists have called this a "hellscape."

The Turret Fire is burning 22 miles northeast of Glenwood Springs. As of Monday afternoon, crews had about a third of it contained.

Pitkin County 'Perfectly Primed' For Wildfire

Jun 19, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

Eight wildfires now burn in Colorado, and Roaring Fork Valley communities are under fire restrictions because of hot, dry, windy conditions.

Officials warn that PitCo is 'primed for wildfire'

Apr 25, 2018
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.

Glenwood Springs hosts wildfire prevention event

Apr 12, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio

Officials are preparing for a hot, dry summer, and with it, increased fire danger. Glenwood Springs is hosting an event Saturday to help residents prepare for wildfires.

Forest Service plans wildfire mitigation in Crystal River Valley

Feb 5, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

The U.S. Forest Service has released a proposal to mitigate wildfire hazards on nearly 300 acres of national forest land in the Crystal River Valley. The plan includes mechanical treatments, like hand-cutting vegetation, at five locations in the valley and using prescribed fire near Marble.

PitCo hazard plan shows wildfire likely

Jan 7, 2018
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio News

Pitkin County has updated its plans to lessen the impacts of natural disasters, like floods and wildfires.