BLM commends communities for Weber Fire support

As our communities start to see a shift in the weather patterns, I wanted to take a moment to share my appreciation and gratitude for the support the BLM and our firefighters received during the Weber Fire.

The outpouring of the town of Mancos in supporting the firefighters and attending the public meetings was amazing. I was really impressed by all the citizens who donated their time, energy and funding when their community was threatened by the wildfire. The multiple donations and offers of help from across Montezuma County and beyond were a moving tribute to the quality of our citizenry.

The support from Montezuma County for the Weber Fire included the hardworking members of the Sheriff’s Department and their participation in the public meetings in Mancos, their work in managing traffic, performing evacuations, as well as their extensive work during our fire investigation has shown how agencies can work together.

Additionally, I would like to extend a special thank you to our local San Juan Type III Incident Command Team (led by Craig Goodell), local volunteer fire departments, as well as the Durango Interagency Dispatch Center. Their early efforts saved homes and enabled the Rocky Mountain Incident Command Team to swiftly transfer command and continue to strategically fight the fire. When the fire was nearly contained, Russ Reimer’s Type III Incident Command Team took command and contained the fire to just over 10,000 acres.

The first weeks after the fire were tough, with flooding of adjoining arroyos, hay fields and private property. Homeowners were discouraged by the ash and debris coming off of Menefee Mountain. Unfortunately, these events are common after large fire events. We hope that those impacted by this fire during these difficult times can reflect back and remember all the efforts that this community and their firefighters made during a critical fire season.

Currently, we are working on plans for the restoration and seeding of the burned area on the BLM lands and disturbed firebreaks by fall. Mother Nature, however, will have the main role as this ecosystem renews itself and regrows over the next several years. I suspect you’ll begin to see this recovery as early as this fall with the regeneration of Gambel oakbrush and grasses.

Again, I really want to thank our citizens and our local leaders for the tremendous outpouring and support to the BLM, our volunteer fire departments, law enforcement and each other during these past several weeks. As a Colorado native and longtime Western Slope resident (and more recent Southwest Colorado arrival), I, too, am proud to be a citizen of a community which readily reaches out to its neighbors in a time of need.

Connie Clementson is manager of the Bureau of Land Management’s Tres Rios Field Office.

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