The Cost of Colorado Wildfires

A helicopter drops water on the fire as firefighters continued to battle the blaze that burned into the evening hours in Waldo Canyon on the U.S. Air Force Academy June 27, 2012. The fires, which have burned more than 15,000 acres, began spreading to the southwestern corner of the Academy in the early morning, causing base officials to evacuate residents. Officials estimated that the fire had spread to about 10 acres of land belonging to the Academy. Currently, more than 90 firefighters from the Academy, along with assets from Air Force Space Command; F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.; Fort Carson, Colo.; and the local community continue to fight the fire.(U.S. Air Force Photo by: Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock) (Released)
On the afternoon of May 18, 1996, nearly a quarter of a century ago, an unattended campfire driven by high winds ripped through eleven miles of the Pike National Forest in Buffalo Creek. Since 1996 Colorado has lost approximately 500,000 acres to wildfires with suppression costs reaching $4.5 Billion in 2019. Lyle Laverty, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, explains that these tragic losses and costs can be prevented. Remember, “Only you can prevent forest fires!”

The Cost of Colorado Wildfires

On the afternoon of May 18, 1996, nearly a quarter of a century ago, an unattended campfire, driven by high wind ripped through eleven miles of the Pike National Forest in Buffalo Creek.  The Buffalo Creek fire burned very hot, jumping from crown to crown in its path of destruction. The fire burned with such intensity the soil was scorched, with such impact that today the burned area scar has little to no regeneration.

On July 12, 1996 an intense thunderstorm poured nearly 3 inches of rain on the Buffalo Creek fire burn scar in just 2 hours.  With no vegetation an ocean of black water and sediment poured into the South Platte River and the Strontia Springs Reservoir.   Strontia Springs suffered major impact on water quality because of the flow of ash, sediment, and flood debris, costing Denver Water customers tens of millions of dollars to repair.

Worst of all, two Buffalo Creek residents lost their lives.

Buffalo Creek was the beginning.  Since 1996 Colorado has lost approximately 500,000 acres to wildfire.  Nationally, wildfire suppression costs of the United States Forest Service have risen from $1 billion in the fire season of 2012 to $4.5 billion in 2019! Suppression costs are the tip of the iceberg. Some estimates place post fire impacts and recovery costs at 10 to 20 times suppression costs.  During the last three decades, the intensity of wildfires has left a path of destruction and annual losses of infrastructure, public health and natural resources estimated to be $70 to $350 billion each year.

Tragic losses to life, property and natural resources can be prevented.  Large, high intensity wildfires throughout America, and here in Colorado, have created this crisis.  Lack of active forest management, impact of a changing climate, and the explosive growth of the wildland urban interface combine to create this volatile mixture for disaster. 2020 has the potential to be another significant catastrophic wildfire season across the west and here in Colorado.  Some are calling the current situation the “new normal.” It is imperative we reject that notion because what is happening now does not need to happen.  We know what to do.  Active aggressive forest management will ensure effective wildfire management.

This lack of active forest management over decades has enabled wildfires to become large, more intense and taking lives and property. Treating unhealthy forests in Colorado, the west and the nation is the land conservation issue of our time.  Lack of management is a safety issue.  It is an economic issue.  It is a security issue.  It is a crisis.

Wildfire is a historic and natural part of Colorado’s landscape.  We will never keep wildfire out of Colorado, but we can reduce wildfire impacts on lives and property by creating resilient landscapes and communities through active forest management.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Table of Contents

Support The Kim Monson Show

Freedom vs Force. Force vs Freedom. Let’s have a conversation!

Partner with me as we engage in the “Battle of Ideas” occurring in our homes, our communities, our state and our nation. It is important to understand the issues so that we can converse with others in calm, reasonable voices. In order to preserve our Liberties, we must change hearts and minds.

Words are powerful. Ronald Reagan freed Berliners with the words, “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall!” My goal is that through my radio shows, website, social media, podcasts and women’s groups, I help you find the words to persuade those in your sphere of influence that Freedom is better than Force. If something is a good idea, it shouldn’t need force to implement it.

My business structure is unique. I purchase my airtime for my radio shows which means I have full editorial control of content, guests and the other projects. I welcome your partnership in keeping me on the air. In doing so, you will exponentially augment the good work that you are already involved in. Politics is downstream from culture which is downstream from education. Together we will engage and empower our fellow, hardworking Coloradans in the Battle of Ideas that is raging in our state.


Get my weekly show schedule, breaking news, and special offers, invitations, and deals from The Kim Monson Show and my valued partners.

Copyright 2019 @ Kim Monson
colorado conservative values kim monson

Sign up for The Kim Monson Show newsletter.

Every Sunday you’ll get our upcoming week’s schedule, links to Kim’s latest podcasts, feature articles on the important political and social issues facing Coloradans. You’ll also be the first to hear about exclusive events and offers from Kim and her partners.