September 20th marked the start of the Bald Mountain fire near the top of Clear Creek Canyon. A total of 17 acres burned over the course of a day and a half. The fire was entirely contained on a parcel of land owned by Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS). The property has a conservation easement on it that is held by Clear Creek Land Conservancy. We are working jointly with JCOS to monitor the burn area and formulate restoration plans that preserve the conservation values of the property.
Though the fire was contained on JCOS land and didn’t reach the nearby residential area of Mount Vernon Country Club, there were strong concerns that if the wind shifted, the fire would quickly make its way up one of the gullies and reach homes before it could be stopped. Fortunately, the massive joint response by fire crews contained the fire and extinguished all of the hot spots within about a week. Interestingly, this fire occurred outside the boundaries of all of the nearby fire protection districts. Therefore, responsibility for responding to the fire fell on the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. By pure luck, there were significant firefighting resources available for this fire because the equipment that had been used for fires throughout the west during the summer was still nearby in the State. Equipment was rapidly deployed, and crews quickly created a perimeter and contained the fire.
The Gudy Gaskill Trail runs through the southern half of the burn area and the view has changed quite substantially for hikers on the trail. Take a look at the before and after photos of the area, and it’s clear what a difference fire can make to an ecosystem. The spring will likely bring an abundance of wildflowers and new growth in the burn area, so CCLC highly recommends planning a spring hike on the Beaver Brook and Gudy Gaskill Trails as soon as the flowers start blooming.
A huge THANK YOU to all of the people who responded to the fire.