Risk in Mesa County
One third of all US homes occur in the wildland urban interface, also known as the WUI (woo-ee.) This is a zone where wild plants and forests meet structures, causing a high risk for wildfires to spread to homes.
In Mesa County wildfire is one of our greatest threats. With many plants that rely on wildfire to thrive including; sage brush, oak brush, pinion/juniper, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifers, this potential cannot be ignored.
Concerns at a glance
While these are not the only concerns that exist in Mesa County, fuels, access to water, terrain, and proximity to homes or natural resources all make them high-risk areas for wildfire. For an in-depth look at risk in the county, check out the Mesa County Wildfire Protection Plan.
Fire is a natural occurrence throughout the west. Mesa County is home to several ecosystems that rely on wildfire to thrive including: sage brush, oak brush, pinon/juniper, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifer forests. Wildfires in these habitats reduce the build up of fuels, promote plant diversity, and return much needed nutrients back into the soil.
However, wildfires can also have devastating impacts on critical habitats, cottonwood forests, water quality, and valuable community open spaces. Because of this, it is important to manage the land and educate the community to find a balance that gains the benefits, but avoids the devastation of fire.
Part of what people love about Colorado is our public lands, parks, and preserves. These beautiful areas provide essential habitat for plants and animals, and add to the quality of life in Mesa County.
After wildfires, ash and soot can runoff into rivers and streams negatively impacting water quality, choking rivers of oxygen and harming aquatic wildlife.
These transition zones between land and river habitats are critical to the larger desert ecosystm. They protect the watershed, but plants may also become overgrown and more vulnerable to fires.
Aerial Photo of a River
Parks and Preserves
Beyond natural resources, the effects of wildfires can be far-reaching. Individuals, neighborhoods, businesses, economies, infrastructure, and utilities can all feel the impacts of a wildfire long after the flames are gone.
Smoke affects people and animals, especially young children, older adults and those with asthma, heart problems, and health conditions.
Water & Wastewater
Power can be shut off for long periods of time during a fire for safety reasons. This impacts health equipment, food storage, cell phones, and emergency information
Water resources can be compromised by direct contamination or when electricity is down and treatment systems are disrupted.
Fires don't stop at fences or property lines. The wildland urban interface presents immediate threats to personal property and businesses in the community.
Services, tourism, and business operations all feel an immediate impact from wildfires. Recovery is dynamic and long-term with both negative impacts and positive opportunities.
Historical, cultural, and social resources are also at stake in a wildfire. Significant places, organizations, and resources can all be destabilized or at risk from wildfire activities.