As The Denver Post notes, "Protecting homes from wildfires is increasingly costly . Nearly 1 million acres of forest in Colorado contain residential and commercial development. That area is expected to top 2 million acres by 2030." Under a proposal, current and future homes in the wildland-urban interface may face mitigation standards and higher insurance costs.
Once again, this summer, the Western United States saw plenty of forest fires. Many of them, like California’s Rim Fire, continue to burn. When the flames are extinguished, the dollar signs emerge. States handle fire suppression costs differently. In Colorado, it depends on what kind of land is burning and how big the blaze is.
"The fundamental problem is we're living in Colorado because we love nature," Andrew Dunham of Colorado College tells the Denver Post. "And nature burns."
That love of nature contributes to a growing Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), expected to reach 2.2 million acres by 2030. Now policies of fire suppression, drought, local controls and natural problems like pine beetles are contributing to increased fire dangers - and prompting a search for solutions.
A governor's task force and a legislative committee have been exploring possible solutions to problems that continue to grow as more and more people move into Colorado's "red zones," the high fire-risk areas that more than one-fourth of the state's population calls home.
A MAFFS equipped C-130 over the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012
Credit Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher / The National Guard
Air Force C-130’s equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System will continue to fight western wildfires. To date, they have dropped over 1.2 million gallons of fire retardant according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Flames from the Rim Fire in the hills behind Tuolumne City, Calif., on Wednesday.
Credit David McNew / Reuters/Landov
The massive "Rim Fire" around California's Yosemite National Park is now about 30 percent contained and it's hoped that cooling temperatures and more moderate winds will continue to work in firefighters' favor.
But The Associated Press cautions that officials say it will likely still be three weeks before the fire is surrounded and that the blaze likely won't be out until many weeks after that.