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December Wildfires Should Mean January Policy

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The Fern Lake Fire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park (credit: RMNP)

The Fern Lake Fire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park (credit: RMNP)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

As my wife and I were watching reports over the weekend about the Fern Lake wildfire, it occurred to both of us that as Colorado natives, we could not remember a major December wildfire in our lifetimes.

While hopefully a snow storm will knock out the Fern Lake fire soon, the fact remains that Colorado has experienced an unparalleled season of wildfires that may not ebb very soon.

With no real end to Colorado’s wildfire problems in sight, our state’s legislative leadership needs to address the issue in the next session, or our state’s inability to handle these growing problems will overtake almost every other issue.

I do not pretend to think that addressing Colorado’s wildfire problem is easy. However, if any Coloradan feels that 2012 is an aberration and that our growing wildfires won’t eventually affect all of us, they are fooling themselves.

Every Coloradan is already feeling the affects of the summer wildfires. We now have higher insurance premiums because collectively, insurance companies spend more money covering homes in Colorado.

And remember, gratefully, we have yet to see one of these wildfires hit an area of significant bark beetle deforestation.

One of the leading causes of the conditions that lead to these fires is the drought that we are currently in, but no one is talking about. The affects of this drought can affect more than just wildfire conditions, as our skiing industry can attest.

So when you look at the various other connections to the conditions, we can recognize that we have a problem that will require our leaders’ direct and undivided attention.

Whether it’s the resources dedicated to fighting fires, or examining water usage policies for our state, the Colorado legislature needs to address this issue before it dominates the headlines again.

We have a multitude of issues that deserve the attention of our elected leaders. However, few of them affect as many Coloradans in as many different ways as the conditions that are creating the current wildfire conditions.

Our elected leaders cannot control the weather, but they can control how we handle it. If they do not decide to make this a priority, nature may make it one on its own.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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