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Forest & Fire Learning Series: In Our Backyard – Community Preparedness & Seasonal Outlooks

April 29, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

In Our Backyard – Community Preparedness & Seasonal Outlooks: To wrap up the Forest & Fire Learning Series, we will learn about local wildfire resources and mitigation efforts with Alex Graf and Gem Boone. Alex will cover some of the many programs and services offered by Wildfire Adapted Partnership (WAP) while Gem shares her experience as a neighborhood ambassador for the Elk Steam Ranch in the East Canyon Community. Her powerful story will outline the coordinated and community-wide response to the East Canyon Fire in the summer of 2020 – by the time Gem received her emergency alert text with the mandatory evacuation order, the entire community was mostly through its evacuation plan, phone-trees were completed, livestock was loaded, and Gem herself was already driving out of the community with all of her belongings.  Brad Pietruszka will conclude the evening with a presentation that shows seasonal outlooks for both wildfire and prescribed fire across the San Juan National Forest and surrounding areas for 2021. Brad will explain the concept of fire “debt”, or the amount of fire that is missing from a landscape, what that means in our changing climate, and the two paths we can take to prepare for its’ inevitable return.


• Alex Graf: Montezuma County Coordinator, Wildfire Adapted Partnership

• Gem Boone: Neighborhood Ambassador, East Canyon Community

• Brad Pietruszka: Fuels Program Manager, San Juan National Forest, USDA Forest Service

Livestream on Mountain Studies Institute YouTube page and Facebook at 6pm.

More about the series:

Since 2017, the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado have experienced exceptional drought and fire alongside record snowpack and swollen rivers. In response to community concerns regarding these climatic fluctuations across our landscape, MSI and partners began the Forest & Fire Learning Series in the spring of 2018. For the past three years, this lecture series has offered information and resources to how we, as a community, can better understand and approach local climatic changes using the best available science and landscape expertise to promote both ecological and community resilience.

There are many increasingly relevant conversations to address, one of which is the context of historical fire regimes – though 2021 may not prove to be an intense fire year, impacts from climate change suggest that fire events with increased frequency will occur. As our community continues to experience the fluctuations in climatic extremes alongside the consequences of more than a century of wildfire suppression throughout the West, we must discuss what it means to cultivate community resilience within the context of the forest ecology of the San Juan Mountains, historical fire regimes, and societal relationships to wildfire. The relationships and responses people have to wildfire can be complex and multi-faceted, which is why MSI aims to include what varying areas of science have to say about fire, forests, and community resilience.

To continue exploring these ideas, MSI is preparing for its 4th annual Forest & Fire Learning Series with the intent to educate and engage our community. This livestream e-vent will feature a Q&A session following presentations that cover topics of fire adapted communities, the connection between wildfires and water, adaptations to COVID19, wildfire smoke and air quality, local seasonal outlooks for 2021, and personal stories of living with fire. Because engagement with a virtual audience is important, interactive questions will be posed throughout the event to encourage a sense of connection and better understand how to reach community members online. Analytics resulting from these questions and the e-vent as a whole will be drafted in a 1-2 page document and shared with partners, sponsors, and local government officials, and posted to MSI’s website.

We invite you to join the conversation, ask questions, and help to inform a community approach to living with fire.


April 29, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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