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A Fire Season for the Record Books

“We monitor fire conditions with an eye toward impacts on nature, and we’re prepared to suppress any fire to protect lives, property and natural resources.”

-Jeff Crandall, Southern Rockies Wildland Fire Module

It’s been a tough year for all of us in Colorado as we witnessed—from afar and, in some cases, up close—one of the most severe fire seasons in history. 

The loss of lives and property was heartbreaking. It was a season that none of us will soon forget.

Words like containment, hazardous fuels, and crowning became part of our daily lexicon as the smoke-filled skies gave way to dazzling yet ominous sunsets. 

More than 650 residences and 200,000 acres in Colorado burned this season.

Another six million acres are in urgent need of restoration.

Lives, property, wildlife habitat, drinking water and economic enterprises are at risk. It’s clear that the pace of restoration must increase to make a significant difference.

Bringing Science to the Table

“Overly dense Ponderosa pine forests are more likely to produce larger, hotter and more severe fires,” says Paige Lewis, director of the Conservancy’s forest restoration and fire program. “That’s why we have an active fire crew, the Southern Rockies Wildland Fire Module, and a forest restoration program to collaborate with land managers and others in creating healthier forest conditions.” 

The Conservancy’s approach brings science to decision makers with the goal of providing a common ground on which to build consensus and determine priorities. For example, the creation of the Front Range Roundtable brings together nearly 50 public and private organizations to restore high-risk, high-priority landscapes across 10 counties.

 Fire Crew in Action

The Conservancy has the only non-governmental Wildland Fire Module in the country. Our seven-member crew has trained more than 200 fire managers, assisted a wide variety of partners in managing fires to benefit both nature and people, and safely implemented nearly 50 prescribed burns.

These burn projects reduce the potential for damaging megafires while providing important ecological benefits to plants and animals. 

During this year’s active fire season, our Fire Module, led by Jeff Crandall, was dispatched to five fires across Colorado, as well as fires in Wyoming and California. 

“The crew really makes a difference in everything we do,” says Crandall.  “We monitor fire conditions with an eye toward impacts on nature, and we’re prepared to suppress any fire to protect lives, property and natural resources.” 

“I’m looking forward to continuing our outstanding safety record with partners and continuing to serve as an ambassador of The Nature Conservancy,” says Crandall. “Then I’m looking forward to a little time off.”



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