The glowing, orange-red sun peeked out at me this morning as it rose above the ridge on the east side of the valley across from my house.
It reminded me of summer trips my family used to take from the Midwest to California to visit my dad’s family. “That’s a Los Angeles sun,” I thought. That rich, almost egg-yoke yellow color created by substantial air pollution.
I never thought I’d see that in Durango. But here it is. I know from talking with others who have lived in Durango longer than I have that they have seen this before.
It is not a good sign. It is, however, our reality, and like it or not, it is a reality we must deal with.
I have now been asked by countless business, governmental officials and staff, as well as media, as to how I think the 416 Fire will affect tourism in Durango and the surrounding areas. This is not an easy question to answer because it involves thinking about two separate realities, each of which change without notice.
The first reality is the fire itself; the potential for more and larger fires, and its direct, physical effect on our lives, our lifestyle and our pocketbooks.
The obvious answer is that immediately, it is negative. That is, it will restrict our lifestyle, potentially harm us physically and potentially cost us, individually and as a community, lots of money.
The second reality is whether we allow ourselves to be victimized by this fire, or we accept that we have no control over Mother Nature. Although, it bears mentioning that firefighters have demonstrated Herculean efforts as well as tactical brilliance to challenge that statement. I just mean that overall, we have little idea what the future brings as far as nature is concerned and what ill effects will follow and for how long.
There are some things we do know, however. First, we know the fire will not last, that Mother Nature will again step in and end the negative effects of the fire. We just don’t know when that will be and what additional negative effects are in store for us until that happens.
Second, we also know that we will not only survive, we will recover.
How do I know this? Because we have done it time and time again. La Plata County and Durango folks are strong, committed and seriously proactive. Those of you here for the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire, or the Seasons fire, watched (and participated) as people came together, gave money and time and healed this community when tragedy struck.
We did it then and we will do it again. I love this community and have full faith that it will come together and do what needs to be done. We are a take-charge community that avoids victimhood. We do NOT give away our power to someone or something over which we have no control. What we do is respond in ways to reduce the negative effects of those things.
I have faith in you, Durango. Let’s do this.
Contact Durango Area Tourism Office Executive Director Frank Lockwood at email@example.com.