Jefferson County, CO April 8 Wildfire Panel Excludes Scientists and Public Input, Locals to Protest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, March 30, 2023
Media Contact: Josh Schlossberg, steeringcommittee [at] eco-integrityalliance [dot] org, (720) 615-4843

After pushback from local residents on clearcutting and old-growth logging in Open Space parks, Jefferson County is hosting a “Community Conversation” Town Hall on wildfire on Saturday, April 8 @ 9 a.m. at Evergreen Fire Protection District (1802 Bergen Parkway), without a single scientist or meaningful public engagement.

In its “Forest Health” Plan, Jefferson County Open Space claims it may be “feasible” to log in up to 25,270 acres of carbon-storing forests—39.5 square miles—across 32 public parks and hiking trails, at the expense of taxpayers and the climate. [1] Thus far Elk Meadow, Flying J Ranch, Meyer Ranch, and Alderfer/Three Sisters have been logged for “wildfire risk reduction,” with White Ranch Park currently being logged. [2] Despite multiple requests, JeffCo refuses to allow public engagement in the planning of these projects nor any notification about when each is to begin.

During the April 8 meeting, Eco-Integrity Alliance will host an information table outside the Evergreen Fire Protection District building showing photos of past and current open space tree removal along with studies concluding that not only won’t logging protect communities from wildfire, it will increase the threat.

During a Q&A segment at a previous Town Hall meeting in Evergreen in February, JeffCo Commissioner Andy Kerr repeatedly interrupted and refused to allow Evergreen resident, Josh Schlossberg, to read a 3-minute statement revealing how the county was violating its own “Forest Health” plan—which claims to “promote larger diameter and fire-resistant trees such as ponderosa pine”—by logging mature and old growth trees up to 129-years-old.

Also at that meeting, Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper falsely stated on video that “there are no old growth 125-year-plus trees that have been cut down,” despite photos on the table in front of her proving otherwise, followed by articles in Denver Post and Westword. [3]

On March 9, Schlossberg and local Eco-Integrity Alliance member, Deanna Meyer, sent emails to JeffCo County Commissioners asking if science and public input would be considered at the upcoming panel. Dahlkemper refused to answer the question, instead responding, “Thanks for your feedback. We look forward to seeing you on April 8.”

“Many of our neighbors had their lands logged through these programs,” says Deanna Meyer, forest-adjacent resident. “Now our forests are hotter, dryer, and more fire prone than before we engaged in these projects, putting all of us who live in the wildland/urban interface at more risk.”

“After the silencing and deception last time we tried to engage in Jefferson County ‘democracy’, and the Commissioners’ ongoing refusal to acknowledge much less do anything about their disenfranchisement, we’re not going to legitimize this dog and pony show by attending,” says Schlossberg, award-winning science writer and Colorado steering committee for Eco-Integrity Alliance. “Instead, we’ll be tabling outside with photos of what they’re doing to our parks along with the studies showing that logging makes wildfires worse, while encouraging people to pressure JeffCo to protect our carbon-storing forests and make homes Firewise.”

Eco-Integrity Alliance’s petition calling for a moratorium on logging JeffCo Parks until the county allows input from independent scientists and the public has been signed by over 600 people. Thus far, it has not received a single response from County Commissioners. [4]

Instead of logging forests, the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Fire Sciences Laboratory concluded that measures such as replacing wooden roofs with metal ones and maintaining defensible space immediately around a structure—recent studies find 15-60 feet to be most effective—can protect up to 95 percent of homes from the most “catastrophic” wildfires. [5]






Published by eco-integrityalliance

The mission of the Eco-Integrity Alliance is to unite the “alternative” environmental movement under a big tent of ecological integrity through common campaigns of mutual support.

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