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  • Mountain Shadows Community Association to build contact database

    Wed, August 21, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    As Colorado Springs Together, the fire recovery non-profit founded after the Waldo Canyon fire, winds down this fall, Mountain Shadows residents are being asked to give their contact information to a different community group.

    The Mountain Shadows Community Association will be taking charge of many of the community efforts that used to fall under the purview of CST. One of those is sending out informational eBlasts to residents, and the association is asking residents to register on their website to receive emails. CST will be sending eBlasts until December, when its website will freeze and the group will officially shut down.

    Sign up for the eBlasts by visiting this site.

  • Reuters video of the Waldo Canyon fire

    Wed, August 21, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Reuters photographer Rick Wilking put together a retrospective of the Waldo Canyon fire using radio calls, his own photography, and interviews with residents.

    It addresses some of the concerns that emerged from the fire’s start–the search for the fire on June 23, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher who failed to pass on some potentially vital information–and talks to residents about the night their homes burned.

    Watch the video and read his blog post.

    Wilking explains his project in the post, and he has an interesting (and different) perspective as a national reporter who lives in the area. He brings up an interesting point–big disasters like the Waldo Canyon fire attract media attention from all over the globe. As the fire became more serious, I remember seeing more and more photographers and reporters thronging the media briefings. The drama lasts for a few more days, or weeks, then dies away–and the reporters dissipate as well.

    I have often wondered, do residents feel preyed upon by the media during a disaster? Yes, I think some do. The question is: Do people find it valuable when we stick around to tell their stories?




  • Plant give-away for Mountain Shadows this Saturday

    Wed, July 31, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Colorado Springs Together has helped organize a give-away of native perennials for Mountain Shadows residents

    Southwest Farms, Inc. from Pueblo has donated 6,000 perennial plants and ornamental grasses. Residents can pick them up on Saturday at the Woodmen Valley Chapel at 290 East Woodmen Road. Plant pick up will be from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.


  • Wildfire legislation: A wrap-up

    Tue, July 30, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Two Colorado senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, have been pushing legislative action on wildfire prevention and recovery. Here’s a wrap-up:

    • Sen. Udall and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, proposed on Monday legislation that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work proactively with communities on wildfire mitigation projects. The bill would make Colorado, Oklahoma and other states eligible for an additional 15 percent of FEMA funds for wildfire mitigation–the funds would come from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which currently only funds wildfire suppression. The bill also place wildfires on par with other natural disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes.
    • Sen. Bennet and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, proposed an amendment on July 25 to a Congressional plan to test drone-technology in several states. The Federal Aviation Administration is already working with Congress on six test sites around the county, where unmanned aerial systems, or drones, can be used. Bennet and Flake asked that two more test sites be added specifically for Colorado, for testing drone technology on wildfire detection and firefighting. Read this article for more information about the ideas behind drones and wildfire.
    • Sen. Bennet and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, have introduced a measure into the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill that requires FEMA to put together a report on its wildfire mitigation projects, as well as identify any obstacles to funding those programs. A 2007 study of FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program sets very little funding aside for wildfires.
  • Sheriff Terry Maketa to speak at Faces of the Fire

    Tue, July 30, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will speaking at a Faces of the Fire event on Friday, Aug. 2.

    Faces of the Fire was founded after the Waldo Canyon fire last year, as a group that tells the stories of people involved in and affected by the fire. Maketa will be speaking about lessons learned from the Waldo Canyon fire, and how they influenced the management of the Black Forest fire.

    The talk will begin at 5 p.m. and will end at 7 p.m. The event is free, but guests are encouraged to make donations, which will go towards the renovation of Mountain Shadows Park.

  • Sen. Mark Udall asks for USFS review of Black Forest fire

    Tue, July 23, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Sen. Mark Udall has asked the U.S. Forest Service to review its use of aircraft during the Black Forest fire to distill lessons learned for future fires along the Front Range.

    The air response to the fire, the most destructive in state history, has been touted as a great success by the Senator as well as El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. In a letter to the forest service, Udall asked for details on how the forest service plans to integrate lessons learned from both the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires into future air response plans.

    Udall is particularly interested in the use of military aircraft to fight wildfire.

    “I was relieved to see that military aircraft from Fort Carson and the Colorado National Guard were activated early in the Black Forest Fire to drop water and fly spotter missions for ground personnel, and eventually dropped approximately 30,000 gallons of water on the fire. On the ground, the 40 personnel from the Colorado’s National Guard Reaction Force who manned security checkpoints in the Black Forest area demonstrated the type of swift cooperation required in rapidly evolving disaster scenarios.”

    Udall also requested information about a potential interagency wildfire plan for the Front Range, which could incorporate  military as well as forest service aircraft.

    Last summer, Udall participated in an after action review of the military aircraft response to the Waldo Canyon fire.  Listen to a briefing of that review here.

    Click here to read the letter from Udall to the forest service.

  • U.S. Forest Service seeking public comment of Waldo Canyon erosion control projects

    Fri, July 19, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The U.S. Forest has opened up a 30-day long public comment period on its Waldo Fire Area Sediment Control project, which will be constructing sediment basins, log erosion barriers and bolstering culverts throughout the Waldo Canyon fire burn scar.

    The project will span 2,000 acres, and aims to prevent mudslides and debris flow down the mountain–such as the community of Manitou Springs has seen over the past two weeks.

    All comments or questions about the project can be sent be letters, emails or messages. Please send comments to:

    Mike Picard, Project NEPA Coordinator

    San Isabel National Forest

    5575 Cleora Road, Salida, CO


    Phone: 719-530-3959

    Fax: 719-539-3593

    Email: mpicard@fs.fed.us, please reference “Waldo Fire Area Sediment Control Comments” in the subject line.

  • Two separate insurance meetings for Black Forest fire victims

    Mon, July 1, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    As many residents saw during the Waldo Canyon fire, the weeks following a disaster can be tricky, especially when it comes to insurance. When residents are choosing public adjusters to help guide them through the insurance process, they need to be particularly vigilant, said El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark.

    Before you choose an adjuster, make sure you vet him or her properly. United Policyholders, a non-profit insurance advocacy group that has helped Waldo Canyon fire victims, has a list of tips for picking a public adjuster. Read the tips here.

    Read this story by The Denver Post that profiles adjusters and also links to some good resources for checking adjusters’ backgrounds.

    There are two insurance meetings for Black Forest fire victims on Monday night, and both could also offer advice on how to choose adjusters. Both meetings are sponsored by different groups.

    • El Paso County Commissioners are sponsoring a insurance information meeting at the New Life Church Monday night. A representative from the office of the Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Colorado will talk about how to file a claim as well as pick a public adjuster, if you want one. Some Waldo Canyon fire victims who successfully completed their insurance claim will be on-hand to answer questions as well. The meeting is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  at The Tent, New Life Church, 11035 Voyager Parkway.
    • Loss Analytics, a private public adjuster company, will be hosting meetings at La Forest on Monday and Wednesday night. The company is for profit, run by CEO Troy Payne, who also worked with some Waldo Canyon fire victims for a period of time. This meeting is not sponsored by El Paso County. Signs posted around Black Forest state that the meeting is for those who lost homes, whose homes were damaged, or for those looking to sell homes. The meetings are at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, La Foret, 6145 Shoup Road. 




  • Mountain Shadows celebration on Wednesday

    Tue, June 25, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Mountain Shadows residents will be getting together on Wednesday to celebrate the rebirth of Mountain Shadows, the community hit by the Waldo Canyon fire last summer. The community event, which has been in the works for months, is also a tribute to the Black Forest fire survivors, who are welcome to attend.

    Several things will be going on, including dinner, and live music. The park will be the eventual site of the Mountain Shadows Park memorial, dedicated to Bill and Barbara Everett, who died in last summer’s fire.

    Food will be provided by Flying W Ranch–the ranch’s classic chuck wagon dinner. There will be live music from the Flying W Wranglers, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Mango fan Django (gypsy jazz), and the  Colorado Springs  Children’s Chorale.

    The show starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Those residents who live nearby are encouraged to bike or walk to Mountain Shadows Park,  at Flying W Ranch Road between Ramsgate and Champagne Drive. Those who drive can park at the Verizon building, Garden of the Gods Rd. and 30th St, and take a free shuttle to the park.

  • In case you missed it: Waldo Canyon fire interactive timeline

    Tue, June 25, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    This week is the year anniversary of the Waldo Canyon fire, which until the Black Forest fire was the most destructive in state history. It burned 18,247 acres, destroyed 347 homes and killed two people.

    Reporter Dave Philipps put together this interactive satellite view of the burn area which gives some great perspective on how the fire burned. I provide some brief narration that will walk you through the major events of the fire.

    It’s connected to a timeline that follows the city through this June.

    Watch it here.