Wildfires are a big thing in the western states. They have their own season, people who live in the western states expect them, but naturally hope their impact will be minimal. This year has, and continues to be, an extraordinarily terrible year for wildfires. In Colorado, by this time of year, wildfire season is usually well on its way out, but 2020 just keeps on delivering. :(
In the last few months, wildfires have torched hundreds of thousands of acres and in the last few days, destroyed some of the most beautiful, wildlife-rich, most-touristed, and well-loved areas of the state: Granby, Grand Lake, and Estes Park. Perhaps most shockingly for locals and visitors from all over the world, even Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is under siege from the west side and may soon be from the east as well. The whole park -- 415 SQUARE MILES -- is CLOSED right now. While the entire park isn't on fire, I was astonished to see its closure and one of the reports I read today said that the Visitor's Center on the western / Grand Lake side of the park was destroyed by the fire!
Of course, while property damage is disastrous for humans, habitat damage is positively catastrophic for wildlife. My heart breaks for the terrible toll the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat is taking on our precious wildlife. I decided I would do something to honor the wildlife I photographed in that area this year.
With the pandemic limiting travel, I spent quite a bit of time in all of these areas over the last few months as Governor Polis loosened travel restrictions. In Summer, I visited the Granby and Grand Lake areas, stopping into the west side of RMNP to photograph beautiful Elk in velvet:
In the coming days, I'll feature more beautiful wildlife I photographed this year in the areas now being decimated by wildfires. In the meantime, I hope you will consider donating to assist people and animals impacted by the fires. The Red Cross is currently supporting people displaced by the wildfires.
Canon 5D Mark IV + 600 mm lens