Stream Water Quality Concerns Linger Long After the Smoke Clears

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Large, high-severity wildfires alter the ecological processes that determine how watersheds retain and release nutrients and affect stream water quality. These changes usually abate a few years after a fire but recent studies indicate they may persist longer than previously expected. Wildfires are a natural disturbance agent, but due to the increased frequency and extent of high-severity wildfires predicted for western North America, it is important to better understand their consequences on surface water. The close proximity of the Hayman, High Park and other recent wildfires to growing Front Range communities has highlighted the challenges of source water protection in watersheds vulnerable to severe wildfire. This document talks about Front Range Wildfire and Water Quality Monitoring, the effects of wildfires on water quality, and opportunities for restoration in the forests and watersheds of the Front Range.