Talk at Colorado Cattlemen’s Association convention touts wildfire mitigation, water maximization
Jonathan Bruno of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte first thanked Smokey the Bear for teaching kids across the state wildfire safety. Then, he told a room of ranchers at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association annual convention in Colorado Springs that Colorado’s wildfire risk is largely Smokey’s fault.
Since Smokey taught everyone that only they cold prevent forest fires, Colorado’s forests have gotten overly dense, which makes for too much tinder and quicker, harder-to-fight burns. According to data from FEMA, last year, more than 9 million acres burned in wildfires.
Every time a fire burns thousands of acres in Colorado, it damages hay and grazing land, as well as having the potential to cause harm or death to livestock and people, Bruno said.
He advocates for forest thinning for not only wildfire mitigation, but also for ecosystem health and water quality and quantity. He told the room of ranchers when forests thin out, more snow makes it to the ground instead of getting stuck in the canopy and evaporating. That means more snow soaks into the ground and back into the water system.
He thinks of it like a Chinese food buffet. Imagine the buffet only has enough food for 50 people, but 100 show up at the door. The first 50 can eat a full meal, but the next 50 might only get a wonton. That’s how it works in a forest, too.
“I like to say we’re using chainsaws where fire used to do the work for us,” Bruno said.