Black Forest Shows Lessons of Mitigation Applied Unevenly

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[Photo: Alex Chambers]

The neighborhoods where the Black Forest Fire is burning are in what’s called a red zone, one of Colorado's most wildfire-prone areas. In places like this, years of drought, fire suppression, and unhealthy forest growth add up to perfect conditions for blazes that burn hot and spread quickly.

Fire professionals describe the underbrush in Black Forest as "dog hair" -- thick as the fur on a dog's back. "It’s a bunch of small trees, jammed together. They’re dry and they’re weak. It’s just messy. And that is a perfect place for fuel," says Walt Seelye, a fire mitigation educator in Black Forest.

All that built-up fuel can have devastating consequences. To learn more, CPR’s Megan Verlee spoke with Keith Worley, president of Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners. It’s a nonprofit that works with communities to prepare and carry out mitigation plans, including cutting trees and creating space around homes. Worley has worked on projects in Black Forest.


Listen to or read CPR's related story on the challenges of getting red zone communities to prepare for fire--and the techniques they can use.