The theme for our 2023 conference was “From Planning to Implementation for a Fire-Adapted Future,” designed around the anticipated publication of the Routt County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).
On Friday 4/28, stakeholders gathered at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) to discuss regional priorities throughout the County, as well as ideas and best practices for CWPP implementation. We heard from each of the Fire District Chiefs, Todd Carr with the Routt County Building Department, and Doug Green from Headwaters Economics on the important role that land use planning and Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) building codes play in making vulnerable communities more resilient. Chad Julien from the Colorado State Forest Service showed us how enhanced fire modeling effectively tells us that there is nowhere in Routt County that is 100% safe from the threat of wildfire… not even downtown Steamboat where there tends to be an assumption of safety in some circles.
We opened the doors of the Allbright Family Auditorium (CMC) to the public on Saturday 4/29 and spent some time on the fire outlook for 2023, with Chad Julien again driving the point that newer fire modeling paints an eye-opening picture and new reality to consider. We talked to some of the fire chiefs and Bill Trimarco from Wildfire Adapted Partnership about Ambassador programs and why community involvement is the key to any successful mitigation strategy. And Doug Green spoke about the challenges and benefits of moving to a fire-adapted existence and what steps need to be taken on a homeowner level and community level.
For context, Routt County was recently witness to two wildfires within its boundaries, in both North and South Routt, with some loss of structures. Fire is and will continue to be part of our environment and we all are exposed to some risk, no matter who we are or where we live. Increased fire frequency and intensity is the reality, and the complex challenge of managing, mitigating and living with those fires continues to be at the forefront of our minds.
Our annual conference is an effort of the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council to promote public awareness and understanding of wildfire risk, to foster community-driven action that will ultimately reduce risk and the impacts of wildfire in Routt County.