Boulder County neighbors form forest watch patrol

Patrollers will put out campfires, educate campers
Posted at 10:06 PM, Jul 13, 2017

NEDERLAND, Colo. -- Neighbors in one Boulder County mountain community are tired of seeing fires started by careless people, and they're doing something about it.

"Our home is really close to Dream Canyon. It's right behind us here," said McKenzie Wolf, who frequently finds campfires still burning, left behind by transients camping in the canyon. "Every weekend, we find these illegal campfires. It's hard to sleep at night sometimes."

She opened her home Thursday night for a meeting of the Peak 2 Peak Forest Watch in an effort to fight back with other neighbors concerned about their safety.

"I'm trying to provide tools for people to get out and take back their forest," said Joe Hall, the president of Peak 2 Peak Forest Watch.

Hall said many members are already acting as eyes and ears for law enforcement, documenting and reporting the dangers.

"Last weekend, I was on a sample patrol and we found five abandoned campfires in two different areas in one day," said Hall. "One guy just feigned ignorance about the fire ban even though they had driven past three signs on the way."

Hall said he is ready to launch the pilot Forest Watch patrol, arming citizen volunteers with a shovel and a water pack to put out abandoned campfires, a radio to report problems and fire ban brochures to educate campers.

"Together, my husband and I, we'll go and patrol. We picked out a particular area," said Marianne Hill, a Boulder County resident who almost lost her home last year in the Cold Springs Fire, which was ignited by an illegal campfire. "It was just terrifying. We watched that whole hillside burn. We want to do something to help."

The pilot Forest Watch patrols will start with about 30 volunteers and will include training from several agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.

For more information on Peak 2 Peak Forest Watch and how to become involved in patrols, check out the group's website here.