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  • Writer's pictureMarsha for Commissioner

Wildfire: All Hands on Deck!

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

416 Wildfire North of Durango, 2018.

Wildfire is a significant topic impacting La Plata County residents in many ways. I can think of no other issue that has quite the far-reaching consequences for County Government, homes, businesses, land, water, safety, fisheries, wildlife, agriculture, outdoor recreation, etc.

Last week, I had the privilege of being a guest at the Kiwanis Club of Durango and heard a talk about the Wildfire Adapted Partnership This group formerly was called "Firewise Southwest Colorado." I am honored to have served as their first-ever paid coordinator. In 2002, a group of us banded together and started the effort post Missionary Ridge. The partnership included: Durango Fire and Rescue Authority, USFS, Fort Lewis College, Colorado State Forest Service, San Juan Mountains Association and private mitigation contractors.

One very tangible outcome of our work is the Neighborhood Ambassador Program that gets neighbors outreaching to neighbors with trusted information and mitigation resources. In 2008, I won a statewide "Partner of the Year" award from the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) for this work. It's an award that belongs to many though, not just me.

Photo of the "416" from my neighborhood.

With climate change fully upon us, the experts I pay attention to, including those at the (CSFS), say our region will see more wildfires, they will be bigger and they will cause more damage. You like Santa Fe? That is what our landscapes will probably look like in the future. So, here is what I will do as a County Commissioner:

· Work to keep the radar system up on Missionary Ridge so we are not in a Doppler Radar black out zone. The radar means weather events can be better planned for including monsoonal rains that can cause devastating flooding.

· Know the County's roles and do my homework. There are many policy complexities ranging from fire restrictions, roles of County Departments, and detailed agreements with other levels of government namely those fighting the fires. Resident safety is number one.

· Support the provision of County funding to organizations that help county residents do fire mitigation, education and assessment of risk. Speaking of: We live in a red zone. Do you? Check out your risk by viewing this map (source: LPC Office of Emergency Management).

· Support Community Wildfire Protections Plans developed at the local, neighborhood level, and look for ways the County can collaborate. Learn more about CWPPs here:

· Continue to help residents north of Durango and in the Vallecito area with the long-term aftermath of flooding caused by the past wildfires.

· Support broad-scale forest restoration. This reduces the risk of catastrophic fire and has all kinds of other benefits like improving water quality and wildlife habitat, and creating jobs. The new initiative targeting our entire region is so exciting.


"Southwest Colorado chosen for $50 million forest project"

Yes, yes, yes.

I think it's not if another big wildfire will break out, it's when. Each of us, including County Commissioners, need to be as proactive and prepared as possible.

What are your concerns and your ideas? Please let me know.


Marsha Porter-Norton

Democrat for La Plata County Commissioner

Proven leadership for healthy communities and a strong economy

Engage, Donate and Volunteer here:

Contact me here: or 970-403-5680

Facebook: Marsha for Commissioner@MPNfortheWIN

Vote your Values. Vote for Marsha.

Photos: Top and bottom: Durango Herald

Middle: Marsha Porter-Norton

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