When the smoke settles

When the smoke settles

While the 416 Fire may continue to smolder until the snow flies, some may be wondering, “what’s next?” The San Juan National Forest, in conjunction with Fort Lewis College, Mountain Studies Institute and others, hopes to answer that question with “What’s Next: 416 Fire Open House,” from 5 - 8:30 p.m., today (Thurs., Sept. 13) at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Locals are invited to participate in the conversation with experts from various fields, from water quality and fish habitat to homeowner fire mitigation and forest restoration.

“The 416 Fire is the largest fire to impact our area since the Missionary Ridge Fire of 2002, but it is likely not that last,” according to a press release from the San Juan National Forest Service. “Fire is a natural part of our ecosystem and is important for forest health and resilience, however, it is also a force that can drastically impact communities and ecosystems. Moving forward, we want to better incorporate fire into our community planning and hope this event can unite ideas and actions.”

he evening will begin with a short panel discussion from 5 - 6:30 p.m. about what’s next for the 416 Fire landscape. The panelists will include Matt Janowiak (San Juan National Forest); Jim White (Colorado Parks and Wildlife); Julie Korb (Fort Lewis College); Butch Knowlton (La Plata County Emergency Management); and Brian Divine (San Juan Basin Health).

Following the panel, the room will open to small-table discussions, at which time the public can discuss their own ideas and learn more of “what’s next” in key areas. Tables will be staffed by local experts, who will offer participants the opportunity to delve deeper into conversations around their specific interests, from fish, wildlife, forest and river health to the economy, recreation and private land mitigation.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase during the event.

In addition to the What’s Next 416 Open House, there are two other events being held as part of a 416 Fire Talk Series:

• Tour of the 416 and Missionary Ridge burn scars, Sat., Sept. 15, with Julie Korb from FLC, Gretchen Fitzgerald from the SJNF, and Aaron Kimple from MSI. Access to the 416 Fire scar will be dependent on weather. Registration is required at mountainstudies.org/events.

• The Intersection of Forests, Fire, Recreation and Conservation – Mon., Oct. 22, 5-8:30 p.m., Powerhouse Science Center, event will include a community fundraiser, film screening and guest panel with recreation and conservation leaders from across the state.