line decor



Web hosting donated by Colorado Firecamp.

Chaffee County, Colorado
CWPP guidelines

A variety of resources are available to assist subdivisions and neighborhood groups to develop their own wildfire plan, like Game Trail and Maysville-North Fork. Below is a section from the book “The Good Neighbor Guidebook for Colorado: Necessary Information and Good Advice for Living in and Enjoying Today’s Colorado published by Big Earth Publishing. Reprinted by permission.

Keep in mind that this was published in 2000, a couple years before Colorado experienced the Hayman Fire and Congress thought to legislate a solution with the Healthy Forest Restoration Act.

What Can You and Your Neighbors Do to Reduce Fire Risks?

Develop a Community Fire Protection Plan that includes plans for the following:

  1. Fuel Breaks.  These are easily accessible strips of land of varying width (depending on fuel and terrain) in which fuel density is reduced, thus improving fire control opportunities and safety.  The forest stand is thinned, and remaining trees are pruned to remove lower branches that can become ladder fuels.  Brush, heavy ground fuels, snags, and dead trees are disposed of, and a more open, park-like appearance is created.  These should not be confused with firebreaks, which are large areas in which the vegetation is completely removed.

  2. Defensible space around each building – an area in which firefighters have room to safely and effectively do their jobs.  Essentially this means thinning trees and eliminating brush close to structures.  Pruning of lower branches is also useful.  Stacks of firewood should not be adjacent to structures.

  3. Straightening and widening development roads and driveways, if necessary, to accommodate the turning radius of fire trucks.  Bridges should be adequate to support the weight of fire vehicles.  Make sure that all roads, house numbers, and owners’ names are visible.

  4. General forest thinning between structures to reduce the possibility of crown fires in the tops of trees.  Crown fires tend to spread rapidly and are so intense that suppression actions are often futile until the terrain or the weather force the fire back to the ground.  General thinning occurs in areas outside fuel breaks and defensible space.

  5. Removal of dead trees (leaving a few for bird habitat).  An abundance of dead or diseased, dying trees is potential fuel for wildfires.

  6. Assessment of wildfire hazard. Work with your local fire-protection district to assess each homesite’s wildfire hazard.  Develop plans that can be implemented in the event of a wildfire.

  7. Banding together with your neighbors, both private and public, to keep the forests healthy and reduce wildfire risk.  These efforts should help to establish a more fire-resistant ecosystem that will reduce the danger to the residents and the houses it contains.

Some of the groups that have already formed to protect large boundaryless areas are the Pikes Peak Prevention Partners in Douglas, El Paso and Teller Counties; the Jefferson County Wildfire Committee; the Boulder County Wildfire Mitigation Group; the Larimer County Wildfire Council; the Upper Arkansas Wildfire Council in Lake and Chaffee Counties; the Lookout Mountain Wildfire Committee; and the West Ranch and Homestead Homeowners Associations.

In partnership with public entities, the community could consider large-scale activities such as ecosystem restoration, prescribed burns or localized tree thinning, and support of timber sales on public lands designed to protect residential areas.  Prescribed burns are planned, human-ignited fires that are controlled in order to reduce the fuel on the forest floor.  Tree thinning and timber sales can produce difficult-to-dispose-of “slash,” the limbs and branches remaining after the thinning harvest.  This material may be piled an burned in a safe manner, chipped, hauled to the landfill, taken to the city mulch pile, or “lopped and scattered” around the forest floor to rot.

Although such activities can be expensive, the costs may be offset in part by the sale of forest products.  At any rate, the remaining costs will prove to be many times less than fighting at fire at the interface between human developments and the forest.

Reprinted by permission. Written by Frank C. Dennis, Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Coordinator, Colorado State Forest Service.
“The Good Neighbor Guidebook for Colorado: Necessary Information and Good Advice for Living in and Enjoying Today’s Colorado  published by Big Earth Publishing, 2000.

Federal, state and local firefighters prepare to ignite the Three Mile Prescribed Fire on U.S. Forest Service land next to the Mesa Antero Subdivision in October, 2007.
Federal, state and local firefighters prepare to ignite (and safely control) the Three Mile Prescribed Fire on U.S. Forest Service land in October, 2007 along the south border of the Mesa Antero Subdivision in central Chaffee County.