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Old 06-29-2012, 10:33 PM
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One important note from the above post that holds very true in mountainous Colorado: fires climb hillsides like a ladder. That is significant because most lightning ignited fires start near ridgetops, where it may take heavy wind to push them downhill. By contrast, most human-caused fires start in valleys (along roadways, etc.) which allows them to readily climb hills and grow rapidly into very large fires. Of course, in severe dry conditions such as we are experiencing now, a fire starting anywhere has the potential to grow into a monster.
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Old 07-01-2012, 03:55 PM
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Wink As expected

"Donner said the adoption of code changes could also obligate the fire department to begin talking to homeowners about landscaping and trees. Donner said he expects more education and negotiation with homeowners, rather than black-and-white mandates, but some of the conversations will be difficult, he said." [1]

The reference to this article was cited by another in the thread concerning Colorado fire issues. If covering some of the fire mitigation mandates Boulder is considering, it is as well topical to all of Colorado and forests throughout the United States and beyond.

In a nutshell: your freedom to live in the forest as you like is in jeopardy. Boulder is hardly alone in this, and one may face prohibitions on the type of roof used, and other architectural mandates, such as if even certain types of decks allowed. Moreover, likely imposed standards on landscaping, the types of trees planted, etc. Not to mention possibly even requiring the butchering or entire removal of those present and loved.

This in light of an environment mankind has pushed to this point, and largely instead of building fire-proof structures in forests, essentially removing the natural ecosystem instead.

1) 'Boulder considers code changes for neighborhoods in fire danger,' The Daily Camera
Boulder considers code changes for neighorhoods in fire danger - Boulder Daily Camera

ps. It should as well be mentioned that even some neighborhoods heavily "managed" and supposedly defensible were wiped out. Embers from these fires in some cases easily carried one-half mile and farther across water.
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:24 PM
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Wink Wise forestry versus something other

"He said unnaturally thick growths of trees have accumulated in "65 million acres just in the nation's forests," which the Forest Service is hoping to treat with thinning and burning measures at a rate of up to 4 million acres a year." [1]

Colorado Governor Hickenlooper is encouraging the USDA, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, to continue the provisions of their "forest management" program. In this instance, so he can make a business out of "harvesting" all the many dead trees in Colorado's forests, and more than likely many a still live one as well. According to Governor Hickenlooper and the Forest Service, this amounts to good practice in forestry.

But not according to me.

It might be remembered that it is the Forest Service that oversees such wantonly destructive forest "management" practices as rampant clear cutting in places such as the Pacific Northwest. That in many respects they are but the governmental arm, bought and paid for, of the lumber industry.

Anyone thinking our Forest Service must necessarily know what it is up to—or at least following the best advice of its foresters—may wish to visit some of the areas they have "thinned" and otherwise managed. Apparently their aim is to similarly "manage" virtually all of Colorado's and our nation's forests in time. The only exception possibly being officially designated wilderness and our national parks. But do not count on even that, as a Mr. Vaughn Baker, superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park, is presently busy cutting down many a live tree in that park, they supposedly under his protection against exactly that. But do visit, and in looking at the difference between true forests as yet untouched versus those "managed," to what extent this fragile forest ecosystem is retained.

Forests such as those in Colorado live in a nutritionally poor landscape. Each environment is different, whether it be the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, what was natural prairie across eastern Colorado and the Great Plains, or the montane and alpine environments of these mountains. The soil in these mountains is naturally not as fecund as the deep loam of the prairies (quickly being stripped away by industrial agriculture). Most of the nutrients present, as with a rain forest, reside in the vegetation itself.

Therefore, it is not wise or prudent "forestry" to remove most of the existing vegetation. The trees for instance, alive or dead, should largely be left as is. The bodies of those now dead will in time—if left alone—return to the land to nourish another. Whether through fire or rot, in time they will. But not if removed.

There exists but a fraction of the vast forests which were present in North America with the arrival of Europeans (Canada to an extent excluded, but not the Lower 48). Those that remain are often divided, "managed" or otherwise abused, and in many areas decidedly threatened. If left alone, climatically and otherwise, they would begin to return.

Those in Colorado and elsewhere will increasingly have the decision to what extent they value true forests and all that depend upon them.

1) 'After 11 years, U.S. Fire Program Analysis system still isn't ready,' The Denver Post
After 11 years, U.S. Fire Program Analysis system still isn't ready - The Denver Post
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:55 AM
Location: San Diego
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Originally Posted by Arrby View Post
This ecosystem has evolved around a process of burning. If I understand the scientists, in the past our forests would burn every 100 to 400 years - depending upon the particular forest. The grasslands burned somewhat more often.

Forest litter does not decompose here. When enough accumulates a fire will accelerate to such proportions as to be very difficult to stop. Add a period of drought - a fairly common occurrence here - and it may become absolutely unstoppable.

The only remediation possible is to approximate the effect of a fire by clear cutting. While clear cutting does remove the large tree fuel source, it generally does not remove the forest litter. Nor does it return the minerals back to the soil. Replanting can only approximate the natural biodiversity, and not a very good approximation at that.

The problem remains - this ecosystem is SUPPOSED to burn from time to time. It appears that no action man can take will alter that fact. How we can maintain cities in such an environment - much less mountain communities like my own - is beyond me.
Natures way of getting rid of dead pine and the bark beetle. It sucks so many houses were lost though.
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Old 07-14-2012, 01:17 PM
Location: Colorado Springs
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
This question goes to the heart of what I have been saying for years: First, with any freedom should come responsibility. If you have the freedom to build wherever you want, you should take full responsibility for the consequences of the decision. Second, it is improper when the profits of an endeavor are privatized and the costs socialized upon the taxpayers. When these two tenets are violated, you wind up with the kind of mess that we now have in Colorado's urban-wildland interface.

If homeowners who choose to build (and developers who choose to develop land) in very fire-prone areas were told upfront that they could not rely upon taxpayer-funded fire protection and that the homeowner would bear full responsibility for fire protection, I suspect most of them would choose to build elsewhere. Similarly, if local fire districts knew that they would bear the full responsibility of protecting structures from wildfire within their districts, without the federal "crutch" upon which to depend in the case of a wildfire, you can bet that they would take a much more active role in assuring that the potentially astronomical costs of wildland firefighting caused by land development in fire-prone locations would not be socialized upon their district.

No doubt someone will bleat that such policies deprive private landowners of the right to develop and use their land as they want. Bull****! All it does is insure that people accept the responsibility about how they use their land and that the costs of misusing it are born by the landowner and not by the greater taxpaying public.

The problem is that Colorado's land use and planning machinery is dominated by the land development interests that have shown time and again that they are more than willing to subordinate the risks of developing in bad places to the taxpayers. They frequently have willing, if often unknowledgeable, buyers who, obsessed with their dream of living in a pretty spot, are willing to purchase such properties in high-risk areas without fully realizing the potential consequences. That leaves the only restraint against "stupid" development to the planning, zoning, and building regulation departments and agencies who have to answer to political leadership that is "owned" by the land development interests. The result is what we are seeing today--wildland fires invading urban/suburban/wildland interface areas, many of which where development should have never been permitted to begin with, with high risk to lives of both property owners and the firefighters bravely trying to protect the often indefensible, at a gigantic firefighting cost to the taxpaying public. We can't undo the many places where development has been permitted in a potential tinderbox, but we should learn a lesson from this disastrous year and tell our public officials to adopt land use polices that discourage any more "stupid" development in fire-prone areas--and tell the people who insist upon developing land and living in such areas that they must accept full personal responsibility for what they do.
While I agree with your basic premise that there is a lot of building going on in unwise places, I also keep in mind that at one time every square inch of the United States was wildland/human interface. So would you have left the whole North American continent with not a single cabin/house?
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Old 07-14-2012, 02:25 PM
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
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If we would have followed the example of the Americans that were already living here when the Europeans arrived....we would all be living in Teepees!
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:34 PM
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Default Pinyon-Juniper

Parking out the PJO on my property everyday now. Not limbing any pinyon for fear of attracting IPS/other bugs, but close cutting to the ground every ugly juniper in sight that I thought I had to have, thinning oak like crazy leaving lots of space between them and the pinyons. Making sure all pinyons have crown spacing. Will limb way up this winter when snow flies.

All old sage hanging on, Charlie Brown trees under larger trees we thought were cute - GONE unless freestanding away from a canopy. All rubber rabbit brush away from canopies and trimmed shorter like a beautiful hedge.,,,,,,,,,

Breaks placed on ridges and at various other spots surrounding property, and special attention to funnels coming uphill through draws. We finally decided that rather than watch a beautiful timber-framed home burn to the ground, look at our boy's faces when their rooms are gone, and then live in an apartment for 1 to 2 years while we rebuild, we should figure out how to save the house. We also realized how silly our insurer is for even writing the place. We do have a hydrant close, and some service drives to water tanks, and a previous fire break that should knock down a fire driven by our prevailing SW winds.

People do not need so many trees! It is so much better to have 40 prime trees per acre, with just a few babies away from the larger ones, a couple attractive younger junipers, some meadow, and a few lines of oaks all in good health than a choked forest like the ones that were posted on another thread of the forests around Rye, CO. I think insurers should force people to educate themselves and take a fire mitigation course and clean up things before they write the policy or renew it. Our local guy said that it is amazing what they can save if there is the space to defend an already dropped and cooled fire as it hits ones property line. Attention to detail like this with some sprinklers on and a couple dedicated fire fighters can stop some pretty nasty fires?

The question in the back of my mind is how radical does a homeowner have to get to stop the raging hot mega fires. My answer to that is sneak up into the BLM behind your house and keep thinning here and there to deprive the fire of fuel as it reaches your border. If you are still in doubt, then leave even more space, thin some more, and limb even higher. The forest really is gorgeous when you can see through it and walk through as well! People need to do their hwk and take more action, instead of waiting for the government to help them.
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:41 PM
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Default fire temp

Apparently the fire temp is an integral part of the equation. A fire burning through a healthy well spaced forest just doesn't carry the heat and intensity of some of these fires we see on the news. They can actually be stopped. If not severe drought or crazy wind driven, perhaps even with a garden house!

I always think, wow this should be so obvious, however the homeowner has to actually part with more the fuel than they think they do! Ya gotta let some more trees go and bring in more wildflowers. I think I have stated this enough now in these posts. If the tree ain't a prime keeper, then lop it!
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:11 AM
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Wink Unwholesome footprints

Those with no respect for natural forest ecosystems should live in the desert, where all is naturally more barren—and fire safe. Although desert ecosystems vary, some with a fair degree of vegetation, if different from that common in Colorado. If near Tucson, this ilk would probably cut down all the saguaro cactus as well.

Perhaps the better answer for them is to live in town, in communities more usually less prone to wildfires. Because otherwise each and every one of them feels free to form their own little islands of despoilment in an otherwise natural environment, and cumulatively this adds up. All the more in the far wider impacts even one residence has in such a place, particularly when managed in such a way. The effects can be much the same as mountain pine beetles or wildfire, and even more pernicious.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:56 PM
Location: Sector 001
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I'm fine with people living in the woods, as long as they are comfortable with the fact that forest fires are a normal part of the ecosystem and don't expect extraordinary taxpayer expense taken to extinguish them to save their houses. If it was me these fires would NOT be contained, but allowed to burn, as it's a natural process.
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