Public is invited to an Open House about What’s Next in the 416 Fire area, September 13

The 416 Fire is contained and, while it may continue to smolder within boundaries until snowfall, it’s time for our community to ask, “What’s next?” The San Juan National Forest and partners invite you to participate in a conversation with experts from across disciplines on September 13 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.  Whether you’re interested in water quality and fish, protecting your home from fires, or how you can help monitor and restore the forest, we’ll be there to answer your questions.


The 416 Fire is the largest fire to impact our area since the Missionary Ridge Fire of 2002, but it is likely not that last. Fire is a natural part of our ecosystem and is important for forest health and resilience, however, it is also a force that can drastically impact communities and ecosystems. Moving forward, we want to better incorporate fire into our community planning and hope this event can unite ideas and actions.


The evening will begin with a short panel discussion about what’s next for the 416 Fire landscape. The panelists will include participants from the San Juan National Forest, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Fort Lewis College,  La Plata County Emergency Management, and San Juan Basin Health and they will cover recreation, fish populations, water quality, debris flow management and forest recovery.


Following the panel, the public will be able to discuss their own ideas and learn more of “what’s next” based on key areas of interest. Themed tables staffed by local leaders will offer the opportunity for participants to delve deeper into conversations around specific interests such as fish and wildlife, forest resilience, economics, river health, recreation, human health and safety, and private land mitigation. Opportunities for further engagement in the 416 Fire landscape assessment and recovery will be available.


Food and beverages will be available for purchase during the event.


This is an opportunity to bring our community together around unanswered questions and next steps after the 416 Fire. Moving forward, we hope we can use this fire as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of fire in our local ecosystems, and how we interact with it.


In addition to the What’s Next 416 Open House, there are two other events being held as part of the 416 Fire Talk Series. On September 14th from 9am to 3pm, Dr. Julie Korb from Fort Lewis College, Gretchen Fitzgerald from the San Juan National Forest, and Aaron Kimple from Mountain Studies Institute will lead a tour about vegetation regrowth in the 416 and Missionary Ridge burn scars. Access to the 416 Fire scar will be dependent on weather. Registration is required at


On October 22 from 5-8:30 pm, there will be a community fundraiser, film screening, and panel discussion with recreation and conservation leaders from across the state, as well as an exciting announcement about how you can get involved in new local conservation efforts.


For more information, please contact Laurel Sebastian,, 970-387-5161, Forest Health Education Coordinator, Mountain Studies Institute or Columbine Ranger District 970-884-2512.



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