Lecture revisits Million, West Fork Complex fires

The Million Fire burned more than 9,000 acres and destroyed 11 homes east of South Fork. Photo courtesy of Mike Blakeman

ALAMOSA— The Colorado Field Institute (CFI) invites the public to a free winter lecture entitled— A Tale of Two Fires: The Million Fire and West Fork Complex, by Mike Blakeman, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Forest Service, Rio Grande National Forest.
The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 19, in Porter Hall, Room 130, on the Adams State University Campus, 208 Edgemont, Alamosa.
Blakeman will take a look back at the severity and recovery of the Million Fire and West Fork Complex. The Million Fire was started by a human in 2002, southern Colorado’s driest year on record. It burned over 9,000 acres in mid-elevation forests and destroyed 11 homes east of South Fork.
The West Fork Complex was composed of three separate fires that were all started by lightning in 2013. These fires burned more than 109,000 acres in mostly high elevation, beetle-killed spruce forests. Only one small pump house was lost. This photographic presentation will take a look back at these fires – how they burned; their impact to the land, wildlife and human communities; and how the burned areas and communities have healed over time.
Blakeman is the public affairs specialist for the Rio Grande National Forest. He has lived in the upper Rio Grande for 40 years and worked on both the Million Fire and West Fork Complex. Mike has Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Maine in Forestry and Soil Science. He is also an avid photographer who likes to spend his free time hiking and camping in the San Juan Mountains. One of Mike’s favorite things to tell people is “I live here on purpose.”
For more information: email CFI at [email protected] or, visit the CFI website at: www.ColoradoFieldInstitute.org
The Colorado Field Institute is a nonprofit corporation organized in 2005 to promote greater stewardship of the natural and cultural resources within the San Luis Valley.


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