It is worth noting what looked to be an immensely popular Fourth of July evening in Durango last Thursday. Many people were downtown, at the street dance, in the restaurants and on the sidewalks, and picnicking along the Animas River.
Durango from Ninth Street or so south lies under the fireworks launch location adjacent to the cemetery, which makes for a spectacular overhead show. At the other extreme, from the rim of the college mesa, viewers are at eye level with the fireworks launched across the valley. In between, and in addition even farther north in Durango, the fireworks can be viewed from some residential streets and backyards. No driving or walking required.
That is a lot of geographical variety for spectators to choose from.
And, part of the reason there were so many people in Durango was probably because Bayfield and Vallecito canceled their fireworks shows.
Thanks to BP, British Petroleum, for funding what was a lengthy fireworks show. So lengthy, that for a while after the grand finale, single but large-sized fireworks continued to be sent skyward.
Thanks, too, to those individuals and groups that did not act on their need to blast their own fireworks into the air that night, nor during the nights prior and post. They used good sense, and they obeyed the law and avoided the fires that could have resulted from the very dry conditions. As far as we know, there were very few cases this year involving privately owned fireworks.
In Southwest Colorado, daily afternoon and evening showers began a few days before the Fourth. They are light, very light, but welcome. The humidity they bring reduces, just a bit, the very dry conditions that exist in grassy areas and forests. The showers are not a solution, but are a short-term help.
Look for irrigation on the Florida Mesa to end in the next few days. The Florida River carried little snowmelt this year, and Lemon Reservoir did not come close to filling. It provided about one-third of the usual amount of summer water, and dry-crop conditions will soon be evident on the Mesa. Irrigators below Vallecito Reservoir are more fortunate, with water that will be available for several weeks.
The Animas River is below 300 CF/S, much lower than average, but it is being enjoyed by tubers and beginner kayakers.
For the surrounding lower elevations to remain fire-free, lightning-caused fires will have to be fewer in number and reached quickly by air and ground crews. And people will have to use plenty of common sense about fires and cigarettes.
No one can breathe a sigh of relief about avoiding seasonal fire danger until well into the fall. That is in the distance. In the meantime, be alert, and do not do anything foolish.