Special PSA: Put out your campfires. Don’t start wildfires. Don’t burn down my field site.

This weekend just outside Boulder, a couple of campers from Alabama somehow managed to start the Cold Springs Wildfire. They left their campfire unattended and/or failed to properly extinguish it. The fire department confirmed it was started by them and they have been charged with felony arson. So far, the fire has burned about 600 acres, destroyed 3 homes, forced 2000 people to evacuate, and is 0% contained. Out of control wildfires suck. Out of control wildfires threatening to burn down my field site really suck.

Here is a map of the current fire status.

fire map
The burned area is solid orange. The fire perimeter is the orange dotted line. The red dotted line is the closed road leading up to the fire. The green circled area is the beavers I’m studying. 

This makes me frustrated since as long as the road is closed and the area is under evacuation orders, I can’t do my field work which means I can’t get the data I’ve been working towards collecting all summer.  Selfishly speaking, this is throwing a huge wrench in my research plans for the rest of the summer and I don’t like it.

Beyond my selfish annoyance, I am annoyed on behalf of the Boulder Creek beavers. These are the same beavers that already had their dam blow out a few weeks ago. One of the great things about a beaver pond is that is can create a small refuge during wildfires – the large volume of water plus nearby wetlands makes a tougher area to burn than the rest of the dry mountain landscape. Sadly, their pond largely drained when the dam blew out. If the fire reaches them, they will pretty much die for certain. The dam blow out was nobody’s fault, but this wildfire was started by negligence – not nature.

Not to yank on everyone’s heart strings, but there are probably a couple of tiny baby beavers up at the Boulder Creek dam right now. Mama beavers usually give birth in May or June.

Wildfires not only kill beavers, but they also kill the beavers food source and building material – trees. This makes me especially sad because if the fire burns my field site, I’m not sure if any new beavers would come back to it in the foreseeable future, and the fragile riparian area they support would be in jeopardy.

Everybody do your rain dances for the Boulder Creek beavers. They need all the help they can get right now.

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