With all the rain lately, wildfire risk likely hasn’t been top of mind. But don’t be fooled, wildfire season is upon us.
From June to September, Teton County is at risk of wildfires, defined as fires that are unwanted and uncontrolled by humans. The highest risk of fire is from July to August when days are hottest and precipitation is sparse, but wildfire seasons in Jackson Hole have started as early as April. Even though Teton County has received consistent rain this spring, low snow accumulation this winter and the decades-long mega-drought that has dried up the West still puts Jackson at a moderate risk of wildfire at present. As it is only early summer now, risk will almost certainly increase as the season continues.
Wildfire risk is exacerbated by drought, which is why it is so important to have deep snowpack in winters and wet springs. Unfortunately, climate change, caused by human-created greenhouse gas emissions, is causing shifts in weather patterns. These changes can manifest in myriad ways: the mega-drought that has plagued the West since 2000, massive rainstorms and melting events such as the one that devastated Yellowstone National Park this June, and life-threatening heat waves that laze over the southern US states for weeks at a time. While such conditions immediately put lives and habitats at risk, they often lay the groundwork for other devastating events, like wildfires.
As wildfire season in Wyoming ramps up, all residents should be aware of what we can do to reduce our risk of wildfire. Everything from being smart about campfires, getting permits for brush burns, and keeping matches out of reach of children, to installing fire-resistant roof shingles, pruning tree branches, and clearing gutters can help you protect your home and family. Visit the Alliance’s Wild Neighborhoods website to learn about how you can make Jackson Hole a safer place to live. Also consider joining the Teton Area Wildfire Protection Coalition to educate yourself and neighbors on reducing your risk of wildfire.