BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Fire and rain in Routt County

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Q. What exactly is weather radio and what would be the advantage of having it here in Routt County?

A. The National Weather Service provides seven-day forecasting for our local area. The weather radio would continualy broadcast the information on an hourly basis. If the NWS created a weather watch or warning it would immedately be available to the listeners.

The nation's emergency alert system (EAS) is conected to the system that allows for an immediate alerting to citizens. Eighty percent of EAS activations have been for weather warnings.

Q. Will it cost Routt County taxpayers any money to obtain and maintain weather radio?

A. The total cost is estimated to be $30,000. A USDA grant would provide $20,000 and the remaining would have to be local donations. The county would only provide the coordination of the project. After completion of the project, the state division of communications would maintain the radio equipment and the NWS would provide all othe related maintenance.

Q. Are Routt County's five rural fire districts ready for the wildfireseason, despite the city's refusal to be part of the Wildland Fire Council?

A. Yes, the majority of the volunteers (as well as the county Road and Bridge crew) have all completed a basic fire behavior and safety class.

The fire council has created a written plan on how all will respond to initial attack on wildland fires.

An agreement with the federal and state agencies has been signed and in place since early May. With the help of the National Fire plan revenue, the county and the fire districts have purchased the much needed hand tools to allow for a safe and productive working enviroment. All of the fire district have been out on fires this year and the operating plan is working well.

Q. Was last year's intense, costly wildfire season in the western United

States a fluke, or is it something of which we should expect to see more?

A. It is probably in our future to have an increase in wildland fires in the county. There are several reasons.

n We have suppressed all fire for over 90 years and that has allowed for increased fuel loads in the forested / brush areas.

n Changing weather patterns (less snow, earlier snow melt, hotter longer summers)

n Building structures in the forest/brush areas of the county.

n The bark beetle epidemic.

All of these will continue to increase the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the western U.S. to include our county.

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