Many communities have individuals that stand out as their resident champions when it comes to wildfire preparedness, and in Larimer County, CO one of those people is Wes Rutt. Rutt wears a whole collection of hats including volunteer firefighter; outreach and education chairperson for the Colorado Tree Farmers; annual auction organizer to raise funds for the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department; and wildfire preparedness advocate. He’s recently added an additional hat to his collection - and that one has him vigilantly creating post-fire flood awareness.
Almost a year after the lightning caused High Park Wildfire in Larimer County, Colorado destroyed 259 homes and burned more than 87,000 acres in his community; Rutt wants area residents to be prepared before, during and after all types of natural disasters.
Last Saturday morning, 125 people gathered in a horse arena amidst the background sounds of helicopters dropping straw on surrounding hillsides for erosion control and vegetative rehab. They'd come to participate in the Be Prepared event that Wes had spent hours coordinating. Those in attendance came to learn more about the actions they need to take to reduce their wildfire and flooding risks from a dozen agencies, stakeholders, and industry professionals; including Regional Firewise Advisor Patti Maguire.
In every part of the nation, people like Wes work tirelessly to help their friends and neighbors get ready for the forces Mother Nature can throw at them. If the Wes Rutt that lives in your community has moved away, or needs a much needed break, consider borrowing a hat or two from them this year and give it a try to see how it fits!