Few would deny that these June days are wonderful. They can’t be much more picturesque. Sunny with temperatures in the 70s and a background of green mountains with a touch of snow on their caps, the days are ideal Rocky Mountain brochure material—just add the stick figures. The days are long enough for evening bike rides and early morning runs. The water in the rivers and lakes is already warm and the humidity is topping out in single digits.
But it is coming with a price. The lack of rain is exacerbating an already long drought. It’s really not as green as it looks. There should be more than a touch of snow on those peaks. We live in the high desert and that’s something to always remember.
We didn’t get much snow last winter and the rain has been scarce this spring. According to the Colorado Basin Outlook report released this week, the snowpack in the state is just 2 percent of average for the date. The entire western United States is being touched by wildfires. Up near Fort Collins, a fire has consumed more than 43,000 acres in just a few days. The windy conditions spread the fire like milk spilled on a kitchen counter. The bike trails in our valley are already dusty and the vegetation is crispy. Those aren’t good signs for the middle of June. That High Park fire situation could happen here—and that is scary.
Gunnison Basin Wildfire Council chairperson Dennis Spritzer says that is a reality. He says this area has been lucky and he appreciates that everyone has been careful. He is a little nervous looking at the forecast that has no moisture in sight. “Hopefully we don’t get a dry lightening strike. That’s what started the big fire in Larimer County,” he said, “and we have similar conditions. No humidity and windy afternoons. We’ve been lucky so far.”
We’ve been lucky and good. People have obviously been paying attention and not starting any giant spring bonfires. Don’t get lulled into thinking all is well. It is pretty out there and while walking into that postcard is a joy every morning, it comes with a price: Remain aware.
There are stage-one fire restrictions in place for Crested Butte and Gunnison County. Crested Butte Fire Chief Ric Ems requests that you abide by those restrictions. No fireworks. No open fires. A little spark in these tinder conditions with the afternoon breeze can start something uncontrollable. The forest floors are filled with dry, dead trees and combustible material. A little flame can start a big problem right now.
I cannot remember ever hoping for rain—but a few days of steady sprinkles would help us all a lot. In the meantime, take extra care to not start something that can’t be stopped.
Enjoy these crystal postcard days but stay real out there.