As snowboarders, we intuitively all share a common interest in climate change and the environment. Our passion relies on it. Where some base claims in denial, we see the results of global warming first-hand and on a daily basis. From backcountry faces that go un-tracked for an entire season to resorts that open late and close early- the evidence is egregious.
Yet, given our instinctive awareness there is one compelling indicator often overlooked, forest fires. As seasonal snowfalls dwindle, and summer precipitation follows suit, one alarming reality often neglected is the danger draughts pose to mountain towns and our beloved resorts. Such is currently the case in Summit County, Colorado.
After undergoing the driest winter in 60 years, (and an equally dry spring,) Colorado has regrettably already been confronted with a series of forest fires. The Buffalo Fire, as the latest has been named, broke out early Tuesday on a mountain near Silverthorne in Summit County, and forced an initial evacuation of more than 1,300 homes. Since its onset, the fire has spread over 100 acres and is reaching dangerously close to local resorts Breckenridge and Keystone. Evacuation totals have now grown to over 2,000 homes and continue to rise.
Summit County Fire has reportedly requested a "big air attack" in addition to help from multiple agencies. As of Tuesday evening, four heavy air tankers, two DC-10 air tankers and a Type-1 helicopter had been called in to assist with the blaze. At the time of this publication, no injuries or affected structures have been reported as a result of the fire. However, blazes have been reported reaching within 250 feet of various buildings.
The Buffalo Fire brings Colorado's current total of ongoing forest fires up to seven individual blazes and has prompted authorities to temporarily close the San Juan National Forest in addition to other trails and recreation areas.
“Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property,” said Richard Bustamante, SJNF forest fire staff officer.
The takeaway? If you plan on adventuring into the wilderness this summer make sure to pay close attention to local fire bans and to always thoroughly extinguish any campfires. Beyond our own individual responsibilities to keep our forests safe, it is important that we must also address climate change head-on. The summer is young, and as history has taught us, forest fire dangers will only continue unless significant and effective changes are made.
Wildfire broke out this morning above our old neighborhood, a few short miles from our current place. This area is my favorite regular place to hike! * Praying for all the people who have been affected. It's so weird to see my newsfeed full of friends evacuating! The response has been amazing so far, planes have been dropping water and we hope to hear it's contained shortly! (Photo creds to one of my amazing FB friends- not sure who… 😬) * #wildfire #buffalofire #summitcounty #silverthornecolorado #silverthorne #exploresummit #colorado #coloradolive