SAN LUIS VALLEY— Over the course of the past four years, local organizations have worked to compile a video documentary on their efforts to bring the communities affected by the West Fork Fire Complex together.
According to RWEACT’s (The Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team) website, “Bridging the Divide” is a “four-part video series exploring the challenges and triumphs involved with the 2013 West Fork Fire Complex in southern Colorado. This 109,000-acre fire had unique impacts on the Rio Grande river watershed, two national forests and related mountain communities. Each short is a compilation of post-fire interviews, workshops and research presentations, highlighting the special conditions of the fire and the unique community outcomes. Through science, collaboration and partnerships these mountain communities are learning to live with fire in the landscape.”
After the West Fork Complex Fire occurred in 2013, the communities affected by the devastation left behind began to gather together to help reform their economies and come up with plans to help them through any future disasters. According to Mountain Studies Institute Program Director Aaron Kimple, there were a series of meetings held to bring members of the community together with organization leaders to find a solution to the problem.
Kimple explained that the communities affected by the fire expressed that they thought of the Continental Divide as a type of natural barrier separating them from each other. “The fire was a way to show us that that was not the case and that our communities had more in common than a fire,” said Kimple.
The movie is a compilation of the meetings that were held throughout the past four years between the communities affected by the fire. It shows the process that occurred after the fire and how the communities worked together to create a foundation to help in the future of pre-fire mitigation and emergency preparedness.
The series of meetings held prompted the community changes that were to follow. “We went much deeper than ‘We had a big fire,’ and explored all of the similarities we had as rural Colorado communities. Every one of the meetings were fun to host and it brought us together,” said Kimple. The guiding organizations: Mountain Studies Institute, The Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team (RWEACT-Win), San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership, Southwest Firewise, Southern Rockies Fire Science Network, and the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests chose to document the meetings through film, which was later finalized by Southern Rockies Fire Science Network and released earlier this month.
RWEACT Assistant Director Kristine Borchers stated that the movie will be up on their website for public viewing in coming weeks. Interested parties can visit www.rweact.org to find the video documentary.