Fall 2021: The West’s New Megafires

The Wildfire and Watersheds Issue

Colorado’s wildfire season is a summer norm, but wildfires have grown more frequent, intense, large and destructive. After a burn, debris, chemicals and soils can result in contaminated water and emergency flooding. As communities recover from recent fires, they’re learning and applying more resources than ever to forest health work. With wildfires projected to increase in the future, will Coloradans be better prepared to live with fire? View a flipbook of the issue or read articles below.

How Do We Live With Megafire?

November 2021 by Jason Plautz

Wildfires are projected to intensify and burn larger areas over the coming decades, with the potential for significant impacts to water quality. So how do Coloradans learn to live more effectively with fire? The answer may lie in working across boundaries and taking a shared stewardship approach to landscape-scale forest health and wildfire recovery.

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Water After Wildfire
November 4, 2021 by Kelly Bastone
Those affected by the burns of 2020, Colorado’s worst wildfire season yet, have only begun to see the extent of water quality impacts that could continue for another five years or more. As communities and water managers hustle to stabilize slopes and treat debris-laden water, they’re getting better prepared for the next fire.
How Megafires are Reshaping Forests
by Jason Plautz
Between unprecedented wildfire and increased heat and drought due to climate change, forests are facing disturbances beyond the realm of recovery, leading to vegetative shifts that will affect future hydrology.
Can We Better Predict Runoff? New Hydrology Lab Will Help
by Allen Best
A new laboratory leading research near Crested Butte, Colo., is taking the first-ever mountain-focused, bedrock-to-atmosphere look at climate and hydrology. The study should help water managers forecast runoff with greater accuracy.