If you are planning on riding anywhere out west this summer we want to give some locals advice. Please leave the campfires and other open flame plans at home. The west is a tinderbox and we’ve already suffered a record-breaking fire season last year. One of the most popular shuttle routes in the world, The Whole Enchilada, is currently shut down due to a human caused fire. I can see the smoke rising from this fire from my office.
Because of low snow levels, drought, and climate change, the mountains are very flammable currently. As a former midwesterner, I did not always understand just how serious the consequences of fires can be. The consequences are not only lost and destroyed trails. Fires put the lives of hundreds of firefighters in immediate danger.
Fires also put the health of entire mountain communities at risk. Last year we dealt with smokey air for weeks and had ash rain down on our neighborhoods. We had to keep our kids inside and even considered leaving the state to get to better air quality. Even now I can smell the smoke from surrounding fires seeping into my office as I type.
All of these consequences just because someone wanted a campfire. It’s selfish. So, I’m committing to not having campfires until the fire danger has passed, whether there is a fire ban in place or not. It’s not worth the risk.
I know this won’t prevent all fires, there are other causes. Electric lines, gasoline engines, and lightning for example. But this is the part that we as mountain bikers can control. Let’s do our part to preserve the trails, mountains and communities we love.