$300,000 to fund neighborhood, community projects
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Local homeowners and communities once have the opportunity to reduce wildfire risks to their neighborhoods through two grant programs, with a total of $300,000 available for mitigation projects.
Applications are due in late April, and some good info is online in this short video from the local wildfire council.
Working together, Summit County stakeholders have treated more than 4,600 acres since adoption of a community wildfire protection plan in 2006.
The ongoing hazardous fuels reduction program targets private landowners who coordinate community wide projects, including loosely affiliated contiguous homeowners and organized HOAs. Grant applications are online at the Summit County wildfire mitigation website.
The new community wildfire protection plan grant program is aimed at helping private, local, county and federal partners implementat projects identified in Summit County’s wildfire protection plan.
The grants are structured to enable larger entities like towns to apply for funds for partnership projects in four categories:
- Life Safety: Life safety projects are projects that directly increase the safety of citizens and emergency responders in the case of a wildfire. Examples of these types of projects are emergency water supply, access/ egress improvement, etc.
- Critical Infrastructure: Critical infrastructure projects are projects that provide protection to critical infrastructure such as power lines, water structures and communications towers against the threat of wildfire. Examples of these projects would be defensible space around communication towers, removal of hazard trees from around power structures, etc.
- Design/ Pre-engineering: The design pre-engineering category recognizes that many of the projects identified in the CWPP are large, very expensive and may require multiple years to complete. To start these projects moving forward groups may apply in this category for funds to pay for the development/ pre-engineering necessary to take the first steps. One example is the installation of cisterns.
- Education: Education is a pillar to the entire CWPP. All signatories to CWPP agree to participate in the education process on their own level. The education category provides financial support for the education mission. Projects qualifying for the education category are projects which are purchasing educational materials for the education of citizens, visitors and emergency responders of Summit County.
Projects must have community support and require a 10 percent match, which could be in-kind labor or donation of material.
“A great deal of hazardous fuel reduction and forest restoration work has been completed but there is a great deal more work to do,” said CSU extension program agent Dan Schroder. “Citizen involvement has been a process from resistance to acceptance. The Wildfire Council would like to keep the premise that forest management is an important activity that needs to be an ongoing effort. This effort is an introductory step toward helping to shape a healthy future forest,” said Schroder, who has been coordinating the community efforts the past few years.
Community wildfire protection efforts date all the way back to 1989, when the Black Tiger Fire in July of 1989 destroyed some 44 structures in Boulder County. Subsequently, the Summit County commissioners formed a stakeholder group to look at wildfire issues.
Schroder said the group make two key strategic recommendations: To enhance the public-education efforts on wildfire prevention and mitigation issues to the community, and to establish some criteria in local building and/or fire codes to reduce structural ignitibility and improve defensible space around new construction.
In 1992, the local building codes were updated with specific criteria on defensible space, non-combustible roofing materials and key provisions to reducing structural ignitibility. A part-time employee was added to the staff of the Summit County Building Department to enforce the new provisions in the Building Code and educate the public on the new provisions.
The Summit County fire districts provided enhanced education efforts on the strategic and tactical issues involving wildfire mitigation. This part-time position was expanded to a full-time position in 2001, with the Summit Fire Authority funding one-half of the position and Summit County funding the other half.
Grant funding has been an important part of local efforts from the beginning. According to Schroder, Summit County received its first grant of $30,000 in 2002 for funding fuel-reduction efforts and to form a comprehensive countywide plan.
The community showed its support for those efforts when voters passed a ballot initiative to help fund mitigation work, ensuring 12 years of funding. Part of the revenue goes to paying for the needed work; at the same time, the county is building a cash reserve to fund fire suppression costs.
The local wildfire protection plan identifies 26 focus areas. Schroder said the Pebble Creek neighborhood in the Lower Blue is an example of a residents working together to protect their community.
Schroder also singled out Summit Estates and Discovery Hill as areas that have implemented aggressive fuel treatment efforts and are now focusing on maintenance. Maintenance efforts include weed mitigation and mowing of flashy fuels, such as grasses, that will return annually. Summit County has a number of FireWise designated communities. The highest concentration is in the Red, White, and Blue Fire Protection District.
Information on the Summit County Hazardous Fuels Reduction Grant Program is online at: http://www.co.summit.co.us/wildfiremitigation/grants.htm To be considered, applications are due no later than Friday, April 27, 2012.
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news Tagged: | Forest health, grants for fuel reduction, pine beetles, Summit County News, wildfire mitigation