Media Tip Sheet: Drought and Fire

Drought has been declared in more than 30 states in the union, with several additional states labeled official drought watch areas. Forecasters are calling for a long, hot summer ahead and spell out an extreme fire season and financial trouble for many industries. The following is a list of Colorado State University drought and fire experts who are available to the media. This list also includes contact information for university research centers. This tip sheet is intended to provide resources to the media and is not intended to provide contact information for the public. University Relations contacts who can arrange interviews or provide additional information are listed with each expert.


Ecological Effects of Forest Fires

Bill Romme, Professor of Forest Sciences, Colorado State University
Romme is an expert in the ecological effects of forest fires. He can talk about the history of fires in different forests and how wildlife and plants are affected by fire. Romme can discuss how forests have changed because of fire suppression and how that influences the probability of fire. He also can talk about how climate variability influences forest fires. Romme can discuss important ecological considerations after a forest fire – such as soil erosion and vegetative recovery. He has done extensive research in Yellowstone National Park, San Juan National Forest and Mesa Verde National Park. Contact: Jennifer Dimas at 970-491-1543

Fire Behavior and Management

Paul Gleason, Forest Sciences Instructor, Colorado State University
Paul Gleason is a fire management specialist with more than 20 years experience as the superintendent of a hot shot crew. Gleason can discuss fire behavior, fire suppression and fire management. As the superintendent of a hot shot crew, Gleason developed the fire fighter safety program known as LCES – lookouts, communication, escape route and safety zone. He has won national recognition for his work in fire safety. Gleason was involved with the prescribed forest fire at Los Alamos, N.M., in 2000. He testified before the U.S. Senate last year concerning fire safety measures related to the death of fire fighters in the "30-Mile Fire" in Washington state during the summer of 2001. Contact: Jennifer Dimas at 970-491-1543 or


The weather behind a drought

Roger A. Pielke Sr, atmospheric scientist, climatologist for the state of Colorado and president-elect of the American Association of State Climatologists, Colorado State University
Pielke is available to discuss drought and its cyclical effects on snowpack, mountain runoff, streamflow, reservoir storage and water supply. Pielke can additionally address how seasonal weather patterns can create dry conditions, the affect of atmospheric conditions on precipitation, and how climate change can lead to or mitigate drought. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

Nolan J. Doesken, climatologist, Colorado State University
Doesken is available to discuss drought, weather observation, weather instruments, historical climate data, descriptive climatology, precipitation and seasonal weather patterns. He can also address agricultural, recreational, hydrologic and industrial applications of climate information related to drought conditions. Doesken’s 25 years of professional experience in weather research monitoring, data acquisition, analysis and archiving provides him the expertise to address a wide variety of drought and other climate-related questions. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

Addressing water needs during a drought

Robert C. Ward, Water Center at Colorado State University director, Colorado Water Resources Research Institute director, Colorado State University
Ward is available to discuss drought and related water quality management and water quality monitoring issues. Ward can also address wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and water systems engineering and design. Ward currently serves on the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

Neil Grigg, Civil engineering professor and renowned water resources engineering consultant, Colorado State University
Grigg can discuss drought water management, government water resources planning, western water management issues, water system infrastructure engineering, flood control and urban water systems management. Grigg has authored or co-authored approximately 200 publications, including several books, about water resources engineering and infrastructure. Contact: Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

Reagan Waskom, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension water resources specialist and member of the Colorado Drought Task Force
Waskom can discuss a number of water issues that plague Colorado, including lawsuits filed by neighboring states against Colorado and how they may curtail Colorado’s access to water in major river basins. In addition, during a drought farmers may rely more heavily on wells to nurture crops, but a recent Supreme Court case may limit the amount of water that can be pumped from wells in some Colorado river basins, complicating matters even more. Waskom also can discuss the role of the state drought task force, which counsels the governor as he takes drought action. Contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or at

Farmers, ranchers and economic impacts of drought

Jeff Tranel, Colorado State Cooperative Extension agricultural economist and member of the Colorado Drougth Task Force
Tranel can discuss drought from an economic standpoint, particularly how it affects farmers and ranchers and how impacts on that industry will impact many other industries in addition to providing insight into the state drought task force’s role in counseling the governor as he takes actions for the state. Contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or

Drought and Weather related resources

The Colorado Climate Center Web site includes a special drought section with links to monthly Colorado Drought Watch newsletters, Colorado Drought Task Force reports and meeting minutes, water conservation and drought planning information, daily updated snowpack data, water supply and precipitation reports, and streamflow forecasts. Through its threefold program of climate monitoring, climate research and climate services, the center provides climate information at The climate center is housed in the university’s Department of Atmospheric Science. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

The Water Center brings together a wealth of water-related knowledge with expertise from 25 different departments at Colorado State to form a brain trust of researchers focused on water resources. This center’s multidisciplinary approach allows water resources professionals to collaborate and develop solutions to environmental, critical water supply and hazard reduction issues. Additional information about the Water Center can be found on the Web at Contact: Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or