Colorado’s On Fire Today–Or, We Could Be
I’d like to say Colorado’s on fire because of how rad we are—but unfortunately, the joke might fall flat because of the new information released by the Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment on Monday. According to the Colorado State Forest Service, almost half of Coloradans now live in areas at increased risk of wildfires. That means that about 2.9 million people live in Colorado’s WUI, or our wildland-urban interface. And while that might sound like some weird, dystopian-cyborg land (which would be cool, not gonna lie), the term actually means that more people are living in or close to more naturally flammable areas.
The indicated increase is due to greater specificity and advancement in the risk assessment system, which recently received its first major update since 2013. However, the results can’t just be attributed to better technology. Colorado’s growing population has contributed to the heightened risk, as well as how more agricultural lands are being transformed into grasslands and subdivisions.
But this news isn’t all bad. Kristin Garrison of the Colorado State Forest Service says that the new data allows us to focus on mitigating the danger: “Whether you are focusing on the community level or watershed level, [the assessment] provides baseline data for planning efforts.”