GRANBY - A former assistant secretary of the interior under the Bush adminstration will be speaking about the true cost of wildfires and how we can actively manage America's forests to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
Lyle Laverty, a guest of the Grand County Tree Farmers group this Thursday, April 18, in Granby, has held positions as the director of Colorado state parks, assistant secretary of the interior for fish and wildlife parks, and regional forester of the Rocky Mountain region prior to being nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate to the position of assistant secretary of the interior in 2007.
During his discussion, Laverty plans to speak about the impacts of the 2012 fire season, including impacts on soil and water, what these fires cost to fight and the impact they have on local economies. He will also discuss the general health of Colorado's forests and how forest health can be managed by individuals as well as regionally and nationally.
"It is a matter of when it is going to burn," Laverty said. "Not if it is going to burn."
Laverty recently returned from Canada, where he discussed the health of the forests in that area as well as how residents of that area can actively manage their forests. In Canada, residents voiced concerns about the whole of their community and how to protect that community from destructive wildfires.
During his presentation, people said, "if I treat my property and my neighbor doesn't treat theirs, my house is still at risk," Laverty said.
Laverty recommends the creation of a broad community fire plan, which Grand County and area fire districts have already created, and active use of the "Ready, Set, Go" program available to citizens and found at any fire station or online at www.wildlandfirersg.org.
To actively manage our forest's health, Laverty believes a combined effort by state and federal agencies as well as local and individual efforts will be needed to create a forest containing trees of differing age groups. These stands of trees with varying ages will be more resilient to wildfires and will provide our forests with a natural reproductive cycle.
An ideal landscape would have various mosaics of differently aged trees, Laverty said. "For me, the bottom line is that we have got to be aggressive in activity managing the landscape, especially here in Colorado," he said.
We are never going to be completely free of wildfires, but we can create a landscape that can handle natural wildfires and that won't put our communities at great risk, Laverty said.
If you are interested in attending the meeting or would like more information, contact Don McDavid of the Grand County Tree Farmers at firstname.lastname@example.org.