Partnering Across State Lines to Provide Community Support for the 416 Fire

 Smoke from the 416 fire above Durango, CO. Photo: Lori Zazzaro, SJBH

Smoke from the 416 fire above Durango, CO. Photo: Lori Zazzaro, SJBH

Editor’s note

With funding from the City of Santa Fe Fire Department, The Forest Stewards Guild recently created a HEPA filter loan program for the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition in our efforts to make the landscape more fire adapted.  These portable air filters are available to smoke sensitive individuals during periods of smoke impacts in the area. Learn more about the program here.

The Forest Stewards Guild is partnered with Firewise of Southwest Colorado and Mountain Studies Institute’s San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership. The Forest Stewards Guild recently modeled a Neighborhood Ambassador program after Firewise of Southwest Colorado’s similar program. The Neighborhood Ambassador approach is a mechanism for outreaching to and engaging with neighborhoods to help them understand their wildfire risk and encourage and motivate residents to take action to reduce that risk. When the 416 fire started, we were primed to reach out with our HEPA filters to our colleagues at Firewise and Mountain Studies Institute and they put us in touch with  San Juan Basin Public Health to distribute the filters in the Durango, CO area. Here is a recap of how San Juan Basin Health supported their community during the fire and how the HEPA filters were used.

Community Support For The 416 Fire

During the late morning of June 1, 2018 a fire was reported 10 miles north of Durango on the west side of U.S. Highway 550 at approximately 10 a.m. The fire was growing rapidly, heading northwest and had reached approximately 100 acres in size by noon. Local and U.S. Forest Service resources were on scene fighting the fire.  The fire prompted evacuation of several subdivisions and several others were issued pre-evacuation notices. U.S. Highway 550 was closed for several days.

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) was called in to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to support our community in the role of Emergency Support Function (ESF) 8, Public Health and Medical Services, during this emergency.  ESF 8 considerations for the 416 Fire were to provide the community guidance on air quality, water quality, coordinate with public water systems operators in the evacuation and pre-evacuation area, food safety, special medical and assistance needs, behavioral health needs, and to support and find resources for facility evacuations.

SJBPH is a member of the Southwest Colorado Healthcare Coalition (SWCHCC).  The SWCHCC is a collaboration of healthcare organizations, providers, public health departments, emergency medical services, emergency management agencies and community partners working together to enhance regional preparedness and response capabilities.  Utilizing the coalition, ESF 8 provided daily communications regarding fire and guidance communications with clients and staff regarding the fire, specifically planning for the long-term effects of the smoke on the region.  

With air quality advisories in effect daily, SJBPH was considering how we could advise our coalition and community partners with residents with existing respiratory conditions that would be aggravated by the wildfire smoke.  The Forest Stewards Guild contacted us, volunteering usage of four of their HEPA filters.  We were more than happy to take them up on their offer and distributed the filters to a long-term care facility, an assisted living center, and to the shelter for the evacuees.  The long-term care facility positioned the filters in 2 of their more acute respiratory client’s rooms and the assisted living and the shelter positioned the filters in communal areas.

We are very grateful to have the Forest Stewards Guild as a community partner who is willing to assist the residents of La Plata County in our time of need. 

Upcoming Events in the Fireshed

August 11th

The Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition is hosting a learning exchange into the Hyde Park Project on Saturday, August 11th. Hikers will be joined by industry professionals who will speak about the project overview, impacts on wildlife and pollinators and prescribed fire use. This event is free and open to the public. 

Visit the event webpage to RSVP.


August 16th

Join the Coalition on August 16th for a free presentation about fire history, the recently created Wildfire Risk Assessment and a strategy for mitigating that risk.

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Events outside of the Fireshed 

August 2 - 5

Comanche Creek Volunteer weekend. Interested in wetland restoration? If you are, then this is a great opportunity for you! Join our partner, the Quivira Coalition with restoration experts Bill Zeedyk, Jeff Adams, Mark Reineke, Margie Tatro, and Richard Smith in work to improve wetland function and keep the creeks flowing in the Valle Vidal.

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August 22nd

Join the Forest Stewards Guild at Fire and Hops Gastropub for a tap takeover. 10% of the evenings earnings will benefit the Forest Stewards Guild Fire and Fuels Youth Crews this Fall.


Jemez Mountains invasive plant removal volunteer day

Partners of the SW Jemez Mountains Collaborative Forest Restoration Project (CFLRP) are having an invasive plant survey and volunteer day on Saturday July 14th beginning at 9am.


Volunteers will meet at the Pueblo of Jemez Welcome Center, just past the Walatowa gas station and convenience store, about 1 ½ miles past the Pueblo of Jemez on State Route 4. at 9:00 am. CFLRP partners and industry professionals will conduct a brief training on plant identification and then split into groups to go out and survey the project area. Volunteers will be teamed up with folks experienced in invasive plant identification. Bring a lunch and water.

Participants should download the Wildspotter app to their smartphones if they have one to help in documenting weed locations.

For more information, contact Karl:

Karl Buermeyer - SW Jemez Mtns CFLRP Implementation Coordinator

Santa Fe National Forest, Jemez Ranger District

p: 575-829-3535 x3122

Severe drought on the radio and a special podcast about Partnering to Manage the Wildfire Risk across large landscapes


This month on “Community Matters,” a radio program broadcasted by KSFR, New Mexico’s ongoing and severe drought is the topic of discussion. Program host and Santa Fe Community Foundation CEO Bill Smith welcomes Coalition partners from the Santa Fe National Forest; the City of Santa Fe and the Forest Stewards Guild to discuss. Listen by clicking the link below.

Also for your listening pleasure is a podcast about Partnering to Manage the Wildfire Risk Across Large Landscapes: Why Forest Managers and Stakeholders Are Collaborating More than Ever from Journey Santa Fe at Collected Works Bookstore.