As the Cameron Peak Fire nears 100% containment, we wanted to provide some resources and information on current fire conditions and how water quality could be impacted in the coming years as a result.
The Cameron Peak Fire started on August 13th in Roosevelt National Forest and the official cause remains unknown. To date the fire has burned 208,913 acres and is the largest fire in Colorado history. It is expected to reach full containment on November 22nd.
Even though the fire is winding down, its effects on northern Colorado will likely be far reaching, especially when it comes to water quality issues. The Cache la Poudre River is a primary water source for Fort Collins and other parts of Northern Colorado. Between the High Park Fire in 2012 and the Cameron Peak Fire this year, much of the watershed has been burned. This leads to soil run off due to a lack of trees and vegetation, as well as ash and soot contaminating water in the Poudre River. Tree and plant roots hold the soil in place and also help with water filtration. Ash and soot can clog up water filtration systems if not properly accounted for.
However, after the High Park Fire the City of Fort Collins installed early warning systems and built up their water treatment centers to better detect water contamination in post fire conditions. These early warning systems can detect turbid, or dirty, water faster and better, which helps prevent it from ending up in drinking water. KUNC put together a Colorado Edition program that details four stories related to fire and water, click here to listen to those stories. The City of Fort Collins also has its own information page regarding post fire effects on water quality, click here to visit that page and learn more.
While the fire is reaching 100% containment, we know it has significantly impacted many people in Northern Colorado. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by wildfires this year or has suffered losses. We are so grateful for the wildland fire fighters and countless others who have worked so hard to fight these fires.
You can help those impacted by wildfires by donating to the Cameron Peak Fire Response Fund through United Way of Larimer County. Read more about Larimer County’s response to wildfires and ways you can get involved in post fire restoration.