wildfires

Wildfires are still burning across the Mountain West, but far fewer than in the last few years.


Wildfires are a common part of life in our region. According to new research, they can also give scientists valuable information about the climate effects of another potential disaster: nuclear war.

NPS

On Friday, July 26, a fire spread through the grass and sagebrush near the north entrance station of Yellowstone National Park.

It’s no secret that wildfires are getting worse in the West. They’re threatening lives, homes and ecosystems. And they are also threatening our already-precarious watersheds. It’s all becoming a vicious cycle  — especially for the drier parts of our region. 

Several utility companies in the West have announced they will institute power blackouts in areas with high fire risk when conditions are particularly bad. 

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing 11,000 miles of fuel breaks throughout our region to help combat the spread of wildfires.

Preston L. Chasteen

A recent study called upon the Western U.S. to increase its prescribed burn practice as a preventative for large-scale wildfires. Prescribed burning is used to remove flammable undergrowth and dry, dead patches that add fuel to a wildfire.

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Blue

Fire season has been delayed by a cool, rainy June, but state and federal agencies say they are prepared to go to work if and when the fires start.

NPS

Medical and public-health groups are calling climate change "a health emergency," in a new report released Monday. Organizations like the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association are demanding elected officials and other leaders to prioritize action.

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With summer around the corner, fire season also looms. This year's wet spring has delayed the onset of wildfires compared to last year, but that doesn't necessarily mean the fire season will be less intense than normal. Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser says fire season can be very hard to predict.

A 2017 “flash drought” on the northern Great Plains led to massive wildfires, millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue and $2.6 billion in agricultural losses, according to a new federal report released Thursday.

Colorado is testing out self-driving ATVs to assist wildland firefighters at work. The state is working with Honda to test out the company’s emerging technology.    

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Landowners and homeowners worried about this year's fire season in the Bighorn Basin can learn about wildfire mitigation at a workshop in Worland.

U.S. Army Photo by Preston L. Chasteen

Wildfire season is around the corner in the Mountain West. Prescribed burns are just one way to reduce wildfire risk. That's because, in the right setting, they reduce built-up dry fuel in a controlled environment.

Soil erosion in the West is getting worse. And that’s creating more dust – which isn’t good for ecosystems, human health or the economy.

Legislation to mandate the use of cutting edge technology in fighting wildfires passed the House Wednesday and is now headed to the president’s desk.

 


A few months ago, John Parker retired and moved into a salmon-colored log house on a mountain called Tungsten in unincorporated Boulder County.

"Just to get a little piece of heaven, get away from the madding crowd," he says.

Inside, a wood-fired stove fills the house with heat and a low hum. Outside, the snow feels like thick, gritty icing. The wind barrels up a slope, gathering snow into a glittery stream. When the glitter stream meets the house, it curves around and hugs it, piling up around the back steps. It does not feel like the time to think about wildfires. But if that same wind was carrying embers instead of snow, those would follow the same path and instead of glittering, that pile by the back door would be glowing.

Winter is when the federal government starts spending dollars to prepare for the wildfire season, but the ongoing shutdown has put some of this preparation in limbo.

Department of the Interior

A new Executive Order posted Monday in the Federal Register is aimed at fire risk reduction. It prioritizes "active management" on about eight million acres of public lands. That's a catch-all phrase that includes logging.

Erik Neumann

2018 was an interesting year for our region. From elections and population growth to an evolving debate about public lands use, the Mountain West News Bureau tackled all kinds of stories. We took a look back.

We’ve had a brutal fire season this year. The fires still burning across California have left more than 80 dead, and hundreds are still missing. Amidst the flames, a seemingly new trend has emerged – a two-tiered system with private firefighting resources for those who can afford them, and a system stretched thin for the rest.


The words “record-breaking” and “unprecedented” are commonly used to describe the scale of the modern-day west’s wildfires. But a new study suggests those terms leave out some important historical context.

Tennessee Watson

Rising sea levels for some, and catastrophic droughts and wildfires for others, are imminent unless immediate action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the United Nations. Yet in Wyoming only 60 percent of adults believe that global warming is actually happening. University of Cincinnati Anthropologist Daniel Murphy has studied how humans make decisions in the face environmental changes, from Mongolia to the Mountain West. He says the key to starting conversations about what to do about climate change is not to mention it all. Wyoming Public Radio's Tennessee Watson sat down with Murphy to find out more.


U.S. Forest Service

Fall might be in the air, but wildfires continue to burn across the country. One of the largest is in Wyoming and has reached over 60,000 acres.

Wildfires in the West can destroy homes and create a lot of really nasty smoke. But a new study from the University of Montana says it also helps grow some really great food for elk.

RyanFire2018

Dry hot winds caused two large fires burning in the state to grow over the weekend. The Ryan Fire on the Colorado-Wyoming border is now over 19,000 acres and 30 percent contained. No homes have been lost there. A little rain fell on it Sunday and Monday, but temperatures are expected to remain high through the week. Archery hunters should check with the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest about closures.

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It may be autumn in a couple of days but wildfire season isn't slowing down. People living in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah remain evacuated from their homes because of nearby wildfires. And the flames are fueling another thing-private firefighting companies.

Wildfires are still burning across much of the Mountain West. In Colorado, heat and drought are pushing fires into new areas. In Utah, evacuations are still in place for two blazes.

Meanwhile, new information is out about what caused the death of one Utah firefighter last month during California’s Mendocino Complex Fire.

The sun is just a dim red dot. The nearby Canadian Rockies are shrouded in thick wildfire smoke.

Bob Gray knows we probably shouldn’t be hiking up a mountain right now.

“I have a scratchy throat,” he says. “Physically it effects my breathing. I probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time in it.”

Nearly three hundred names have been added to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Colorado Springs. Occupational cancer claimed many of those lives.

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