ALAMOSA – In the last 18 years, wildfires have burned nearly 300 square miles in the San Luis Valley, destroying hundreds of homes.
This fall, the six counties of the San Luis Valley collaborated with Headwaters Economics and the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire program to develop a new, interactive website with maps of wildfire risk, housing trends, and watershed importance. This is the first time such maps are publicly available in one place.
“As our neighborhoods grow, understanding where communities, watersheds, and quality of life are at risk to wildfire becomes more critical,” said Adam Moore, supervisory forester with Colorado State Forest Service, Alamosa Field Office. “This map series can help us better understand the threats we face.”
Residents, land use planners, firefighters and elected officials can use the maps to better understand, prepare for, and respond to wildfire threats. The maps combine local housing data, state wildfire data, and national watershed data.
The maps show that the number of houses in the San Luis Valley have increased 150 percent over the last 40 years. The rates of housing development are fastest in areas of moderate and high wildfire risk.
Wildfire hazard exists not just in higher-elevation piñon-juniper and conifer forests, but across nearly all vegetation types, including cottonwood bosques, shrublands, and grasslands.
Learn more about wildfire hazard in your neighborhood and steps you can take to become more wildfire-resilient.
For more information about wildfire mitigation in the San Luis Valley, contact the CSFS Alamosa Field Office at 719-587-0915.
The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University and provides staffing for the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. The CSFS provides professional forestry assistance, wildfire mitigation expertise and outreach and education to help landowners and communities achieve their forest management goals. The CSFS Southwest Area serves southwestern Colorado from field offices in Salida, Alamosa, Durango, Gunnison and Montrose. For more information, visit csfs.colostate.edu.