Wildfire Prevention | KUNC

Wildfire Prevention

A new and sweeping partnership is looking at preventing and preparing for worsening wildfires in the West. 

The Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative is a collaboration of 30 partners including utility companies, wildlife nonprofits, hunting groups, the Forest Service, and water management agencies with a mission to “increase the resilience of forests and communities.”

Courtesy of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office

A pile of melted metal is all that's left of Eva Bednar's toolshed. The ponderosa pine trees, shrubs and ground on her mountaintop property in Livermore are charred black from the fire that almost devoured her home.

"It's upsetting," she said, walking through the rubble. "Every time I look out the window, I go, 'I can't believe it happened.'"

In the next few weeks, the U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a massive controlled burn on a remote mountain in Utah, part of the agency’s efforts to better understand the behavior of giant fires that are becoming more common in the West.

A new study suggests huge fire blankets can help protect homes during wildfires.

Larimer County Sheriff's Office

Some residents affected by a wildfire in northern Larimer County remain under mandatory evacuations, but they are expected to return home by 8 a.m. Friday. Others in the Glacier View area were able to return home Thursday night. The Larimer County Sheriff's office reports the Elk Fire near Red Feather Lakes is now 80% contained. 

Wildfire is a continual threat in the West, but researchers say an invasive species of grass that’s taking hold in states like Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada could make things worse.

Lance Cheung / USDA

Colorado and Oregon researchers writing this week in the journal Science say there's an urgent need to reevaluate wildfire management practices, calling for more “collaborative governance” and more prescribed fire.

“Science tells us these are fire-adapted ecosystems and we have to get fire back on the ground, and that’s a key strategy for mitigating future fire and also for the long-term resilience of those ecosystems,” said Courtney Schultz, professor of natural resource policy and governance at Colorado State University.

Jesse D. Acosta

Wildland firefighters use fire retardant — the red stuff that air tankers drop — to suppress existing blazes. But Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid they say makes fire retardant last longer and could prevent wildfires from igniting in the first place if applied to ignition-prone areas.

Brendan Murphy / Utah State University

Reservoirs can get messy after a big wildfire. The issue isn’t the fire itself, it’s what happens after. 

Our region is leading the way on training helicopter pilots to fight fires at night.  There are costs and hazards involved but the move could also help firefighters get the most threatening blazes under control more quickly.