There are 58 peaks in the Colorado Rocky Mountains that are above 14,000 feet in height. While 54 are generally acknowledged to be "14ers", most people who want to climb them want to climb all 58. They are contained in six different ranges located throughout the state: The Front Range, The Mosquito Range, The Sawatch Range, The Sangre De Cristo Range, The Elk Mountains and The San Juan Mountains.
There are six fourteeners located in the Front Range: Mt. Evans, Grays Peak, and Torreys Peak near Denver, and Longs Peak located in Rocky Mountain National Park, and Pikes Peak and Mt. Bierstadt.
Longs Peak is the northernmost fourteener in the Front Range. It is known for the breathtaking appearance on its east face called the Diamond, which has captivated and terrified many people. Mt. Evans is nearly 36 miles from the center of Denver and from its peak looking back onto the City, all of the buildings appear as miniature toy models.
Colorado's 22 million acres of forested landscape are perhaps the most complex of any in the intermountain West, with a diverse mix of coniferous and deciduous species.
The most extensive forest types in Colorado are spruce-fir, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, aspen and pinon-juniper.
The basis for this vegetative mosaic is a physical
land scape that ranges from flat plains and high plateaus to steep mountains, deep canyons and sloping foothills. A wide range of topography, soil and growing conditions further influence this variety and contribute to the state's multi-faceted forest resources.
In addition to spruce-fir, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, aspen and pinon-juniper, forest types in Colorado include Douglas-fir, southwestern white pine, bristlecone pine, limber pine, Colorado blue spruce and the cotton-wood-willow combination found in many riparian areas.
The Great Plains
Much of the eastern half of Colorado is part of the Great Plains, once a unique grassland prairie ecosystem that extended from northern Canada to southern Texas and east from the Rocky Mountains. Prior to settlement, wildfires played a frequent and important role in preserving these ecosystems. Agriculture and development altered this ecosystem and shaped it into today's plains.
Forests on the Colorado plains include, riparian forests along the major river corridors, agroforestry plantings for windbreaks and shelterbelts on agricultural lands, plantings for various wildlife and recreational areas, and community forests in cities and towns. Except for the naturally occurring riparian forests, most of the trees on the plains have been planted to modify the harsh, windy environment and make it more suitable for humans, animals and crop production.
For much of the 20th century, wildfire policy in the United States was all fires out by 10 A.M. This policy was instituted in 1935 and evolved out of the "Big Blowup," a firestorm that swept the Northern Rockies in the summer of 1910. During this catastrophic event, 5 million acres burned and 78 firefighters were killed.
Policymaking is a reflection of the public's perceived need for change. Fire suppression policy in the United States changed numerous times over the course of the 20th century in response to wildfire devastation, public values, forest health concerns and wildland-urban interface development.
Fire has been an essential part of our environment for millennia, shaping natural ecosystems such as forests and rangelands.
Fire is a vital and natural component of health forests, especially in the West.
Many species, such as lodgepole pine, partially depend on fire to spread their seeds.
Three components must be present before a fire can start: oxygen, heat and fuel. To the context of wildfires, fuel is any living or dad material that will burn, such as dry leaves, pine trees, fallen branches, grasses and even homes.
Low-intensity fires reduce fuel buildup on the forest floor, thus helping prevent susceptibility to insect infestations and disease outbreaks.
Additionally, fire helps recycle nutrients back into the soil and creates a fertile environment for seeds to germinate. Forest fires can enhance wildlife habitat and improve access and appearance. Fires is important on prairies because it stimulates the native prairie vegetation and helps control noxious weeds.