Wildfire Ready Action Plans

Steven Reeves1*, Jeff Sickles2, Chris Sturm1  

1Colorado Water Conservation Board



Colorado’s Wildfire Ready Watersheds is a strategy and program developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board that supports a proactive approach to identify and address post wildfire hazards and impacts. Impacts are defined as risks posed by post-fire hazards to community values such as water supplies, life and property, and transportation corridors. Common post-fire hazards include increased runoff, debris flows, hillslope erosion, water quality impairments, flooding, and fluvial processes in river systems including erosion and deposition. The mission of Wildfire Ready Watersheds is to assess the susceptibility of Colorado’s water resources, communities, and critical infrastructure to post-wildfire impacts and advance a framework for communities to plan and implement mitigation strategies to minimize these impacts – before wildfires occur. Elements of the framework could also be used for communities after wildfires occur, but the focus of Wildfire Ready Watersheds is to mitigate those hazards before such an event.  

Many projects implemented after a fire occurs are for immediate protection of life, property, and water supplies and have limited success as they are treating point of impact type problems with little regard to watershed health or stream function. Projects constructed before fire provide the same or better protections while also addressing multiple objectives in watershed health and water supply protection. These project types are designed to protect and enhance ecosystem structure and function within the watershed drainage network. A Wildfire Ready Action Plan (WRAP) will provide communities with the opportunity to develop implementation strategies that consider a broad range of different project types to be employed across the watershed.