Following the deaths of the firefighters, there are thoughtful pieces about whether we as a society are doing everything we can to make firefighters (and other people) as safe as we can in the event of ever-present wildfires. These are good and important conversations to have.
An unfortunate part of human nature is the tendency to try to find scapegoats to blame when bad things happen. It could be ethnic groups. It could be “corporations”. It could be those of the other political party. And sometimes there is cause and effect; those groups or people really do annoying things. Scapegoating is when you take a behavior that you disagree with, and turn it into “if we get rid of this group, our problems will go away.”
And to the issues of wildfire, we have “people who live in the woods”. Last Friday, I read this letter to the editor in the Denver Post.
When so many fine young people die, we must ask: Is the price too high? The time when folks could live in the mountains seems to be passing, at least for the foreseeable future. Maybe those who feel they must live there need to work with their private insurance companies to safeguard their property, and not expect the taxpayer to supply firefighter crews and airplanes. The money and the remarkable people who risk their lives are no longer “protecting the forests.” They are trying to save homes and businesses that are just not safe anymore. Perhaps the price is just too high.
Mark Parsons, Berthoud
In the course of recreation Friday and yesterday, (to Allenspark and Estes Park), I traveled through our forests. I encourage those interested to do the same thing in their areas. Because, guess what, not building new homes is not the answer to forest fires. In my area, they’re already there. So let’s take a trip.
I live in Golden, Colorado, within walking distance of downtown. A couple of years ago, a fire came out of the canyons and was stopped short of our subdivision. That fire is in the photo above. We don’t live in the mountains, nor with trees. Still wildfires.
Then as I leave home and progress up Golden Gate Canyon, we see the more classic 30 acre or so parcels with houses. They seem to be pretty much everywhere going up the canyon. At the top, towns and gas stations, convenience stores, fairgrounds, libraries. Going along 119 north, there are more cabins, resorts, campgrounds, church and scout camps, ski areas, towns, restaurants. My point is that 1) it’s too late to depopulate our mountains, 2) people like to recreate in mountains and have infrastructure associated with that recreation, 3) not building new houses interspersed among the old houses might be helpful but will not solve any “house protection” problems.
So..even if folks want to stop new homes and subdivisions from going in…well, that’s an OK desire and may help in some places.
But what we already have still exists. Stopping new development doesn’t seem like it will do much to solve our Colorado Front Range fire problems, as far as I can see. Is this another issue where the solutions differ based on local conditions?
For those of your in the fire-prone West, if you took a trip to your favorite recreational trail from your house, what would you see?