18 Roaring Fork Valley agencies collaborate in the name of fire resilience

Fire crews work to battle the Grizzy Creek Fire as it shoots down the ridge into No Name Canyon after the fire initially started on Interstate 70 in August 2020.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

In order to create a fire-resilient community without borders, the Roaring Fork Wildfire Collaborative agreement was signed by 18 agencies throughout the Roaring Fork.

“As the recent Lake Christine and Grizzly Creek fires have taught us, a wildfire anywhere in the valley can impact all of the communities within the valley,” Carbondale Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman said in a Thursday news release. 

Since fires have no boundaries and do not recognize jurisdiction lines, the valley-wide collaborative is aimed to have everyone on the same page for overall safety. 

The 18 local, county, state and federal agencies involved in wildfire mitigation and management have formalized their working relationship through the Roaring Fork Valley Wildfire Collaborative.

“This new collaborative will allow the entire valley to work together on meaningful landscape-scale projects that can help mitigate future wildfire spread to minimize those impacts,” Schorzman said.

The agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes the group as an informal collaborative organization working together to identify, prioritize and implement wildfire mitigation work on a landscape scale in the Roaring Fork Valley, the release states.

“Community engagement and inclusion is a priority for the collaborative,” Birch Barron, Eagle County Emergency Manager and chair of the Collaborative’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, said in the release. “The collaborative seeks to empower all people in the Roaring Fork Valley to take action to reduce wildfire risk in their communities, to protect people, property and places from wildfire loss.” 

Formal members and other stakeholders have been meeting since early 2022. The collaborative has been working to improve communication and identify critical areas of fuel reduction and vegetation treatment.

Signatories to the memorandum are Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Marble. 

County signatories are Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield and Gunnison counties.

Additional signatories of the memorandum include Aspen Fire, Roaring Fork Fire and Rescue, Carbondale Fire, Glenwood Springs Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

“The Roaring Fork Valley presents especially complex boundaries with the sheer number of agencies involved, so completion of this MOU is a major step forward to effective collaboration,” Bureau of Land Management Colorado River Valley Field Office Manager Larry Sandoval said in the release.

Additional private businesses and non-profit organizations who are active participants include the Aspen Institute, National Forest Foundation, Fire Adapted Colorado (FACO), Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Aspen Valley Land Trust, Wilderness Workshop, Aspen Skiing Company and Sunlight Ski Area, Holy Cross Cattlemen’s’ Association, Watershed Biodiversity Initiative, Middle Colorado Watershed Council, Roaring Fork Conservancy, 10th Mountain Huts, and TriColor Radio, Ruedi Water and Power and Colorado Springs Utilities, the release states. 

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