Public Forums

Common Ground

Current Projects

Hot Topics


Upcoming Events






        George Osbourne and Lee Hubbard           State Farm Insurance






Howard Hallman, Tom Easley, Steve Hill






(From l to r) Ross Wilmore, Lyle Laverty, Howard Hallman, Tom Easley, Steve Hill,        Joel Cochran



Fire, Water & Climate: Policy Implications for Summit County

Thursday, August 13, 2009: 7-9 pm


Breckenridge Town Hall Auditorium

150 Ski Hill Road, Breckenridge, Colorado

Moderator: Howard Hallman, President, The Greenlands Reserve              Attendees: 45 

10-Person Panel: Lyle Laverty, President/CEO of National Association of Gateway Communities, former Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region at USFS, former Assít Sec. Fish, Wildlife and Parks at US Dept. of the Interior and former Director of CO State Parks; Ross Wilmore, East Zone Fire Management Officer, USDA-Forest Service; Tom Easley, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization; Jim Pokrandt, CO River District; Joel Cochran, Summit County Emergency Management Coordinator; Steve Hill, Assistant Summit County Manager; George Osbourne and Lee Hubbard, State Farm Insurance; Sandy Briggs, Executive Director, Our Future Summit.

Jim Pokrandt opened with the importance of Coloradoís watersheds. The stateís greatest water resource comes from mountain slopes with elevations above 9000.í The forest acts as sponge and filter. Panelists spoke of pressures on the forest ecosystem, that include climate change, drought, oil shale rights, agriculture, grazing, fire and insect epidemics and community growth. Denuded beetle-kill slopes burn out at a faster rate and cause greater particulate run-off; in turn, affecting watershed quality.

We live in a fire-adapted ecosystem with an over-accumulation of vegetation. Lyle Laverty presented the historical perspective of USFS policy of fire suppression; the early management policy left unintended consequences. In Summit County, the concern is dense uniform stands of lodgepole, susceptibility to insect epidemics, vulnerability to crown fires and community planning. The aim of mitigation around homes is protection of people, structures and access for firefighters.

The notion we can manage the entire forest of 193 million acres in the U.S. is nowhere possible, but to manage identified forests and targeted risk areas in mountain communities is possible and necessary. Public safety and safeguarding the quality of watersheds are vital community concerns.

When Ross Wilmore sees fire, he looks at weather, topography and load-fuel. Fires burn uphill and with the wind. All of Colorado mountains is a watershed. Crown fires burn with velocity and intensity. In 1996, the Buffalo Creek fire burned 11 miles in 4.5 hours. House fires are often fueled by ember showers. To think of fire, Ross includes fire intensity, how fire burns, surface, slope, accessibility and public safety. Severity is defined as what fire leaves behind. Severe burns scorch everything; soils repel water & lodgepole seeds are destroyed. Sterile dirt comes down the mountain with the first rain.

Joel Cochranís job is to project, plan and practice what would happen in an emergency and evacuation. The County assigned risk in a color-coded map; it ia used as a tool for fire managers. The County is proactive, having identified 8,600 acres as target risk. To view the Summit Countyís Emergency Management Plan, go to www.co.summit.co.us.

Closing off the evening, Howard Hallman offered: All of us are dependent on forest values. What would we have, or not, if the forest is diminished?




























Comments and questions can be directed to:

Howard Hallman, PO Box 209, Frisco, CO 80443

970-468-9134 or hhallman@ourfuturesummit.org

Our Future Summit is a program of The Greenlands Reserve

 Howard Hallman, President




(From l to r) Steve Hill, Joel Cochran,              Jim Pokrandt