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Colorado ready to grant $5.2 million for wildfire risk reduction projects on non-federal lands

Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Summit County's forests.

Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Colorado’s forests.

Applications due March 13

Staff Report

FRISCO — Neighborhoods looking to reduce wildfire threats can now apply for grants under a state program that will disburse a total of $5.2 million for projects that reduce the risk for damage to property, infrastructure, and water supplies, and those that limit the likelihood of wildfires spreading into populated areas.

The grant program, administered by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, is accepting applications through March 13. The grants will be awarded in early May. Information and applications are online at the DNR website. Continue reading

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CU study aims to spur homeowner wildfire mitigation

Social scientists to probe homeowner behavior in the red zone

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Social scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder want to find the most effective ways to encourage homeowners to reduce wildfire risk on their property. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A pair of University of Colorado Boulder social science researchers will use a $298,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to try and determine what sort of information shapes homeowner behavior in fire-prone areas on Colorado’s Western Slope.

In the past 10 years, the social and economic costs of wildfires have soared across the country, and especially in the West. As wildfire hazards increase, mitigating risks on individual properties is of paramount importance.

Starting with the premise that each household’s actions can affect the choices of neighbors, the researchers want to explore two pathways linking homeowners’ choices as they relate to awareness about risk interdependency and social norms. Continue reading

Report: Wildfire mitigation work largely ineffective in moderating the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire near Boulder

Due to surface fuel accumulation, Fourmile Canyon Fire burned more intensely in some treated zones

Even widely spaced trees can readily ignite and burn when crowns extend down to the  forest  floor near surface fuels.  Photo courtesy USFS/Molly Wineteer.

This logged area in Summit County near I-70 may be more susceptible to a catastrophic crown fire because of the high concentration of surface and ladder fuels left after the treatment. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —A report on the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire will probably raise more questions than it answers for firefighters and land managers, concluding that, in some cases, the ferocious fire near Boulder may have burned more intensely in treated areas than in adjacent untreated stands.

That may have been due to the relatively high concentration of surface fuels remaining after treatments, as well as the higher wind speeds that can occur in open forests compared to those with denser canopies, Forest Service researchers concluded in the report published last month.

Up until the horrific fire storms of this summer, the Fourmile Canyon blaze was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history measured by the number of homes lost (162), and a recently finalized U.S. Forest Service report on the Fourmile Canyon fire is eerily prescient. Continue reading

Summit County: Grants available for wildfire mitigation

$300,000 to fund neighborhood, community projects

The U.S. Forest clearcut this section of Swan Mountain a few years ago.

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. Continue reading

Tahoe area offers cash rebates for defensive space efforts

Firewise.org offers useful fire safety information. Click on the image to visit the website.

Up-front mitigation costs generally pay off for property owners

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Fire officials in the Lake Tahoe region of California are trying a novel approach to encourage more wildfire mitigation on private property by offering cash rebates of up to $1,000 to cover tree removal costs and other expenses. The rebates will cover up to 50 percent of the total cost of creating defensible spaces around homes. The program is sponsored by a partnership of agencies in the region, according to the TahoeFiresafe.com website.

In Colorado, homeowners can qualify for up to $2,500 in income tax deductions for wildfire mitigation work on their property through 2014.

Fire experts say up-front expenses to help protect property always pay off in the long run compared to the massive costs of fighting fires and restoring burned areas. Continue reading

Forest health requires sustained community committment

Beetle-killed lodgepole pines gleam red in a winter sunrise on Mt. Royal. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Summit Voice, Summit County Wildfire Council partner for public education

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Forest health is one of the most critical long-term issues for Summit County. The things we do — or don’t do — today will affect the landscape and the environment for decades to come.

We don’t have control over everything that happens in the forests around us. Thousands of acres of backcountry, far from neighborhoods, roads and reservoirs, will remain mostly untouched. But for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we do have a responsibility to be informed and responsible stewards of the lands that are under our control. Specifically, that means the edges of the vast White River National Forest, where private lands, Forest Service tracts, county open space lands and areas under permit to local ski resorts all meet.

Our first responsibility is to reduce the risk of serious fires that could threaten lives and property. We can’t eliminate the risk of fire completely, but by continuing the targeted efforts already under way, we can decrease the chances of an uncontrolled fire racing through residential areas. Our second task is to look toward the future and try to restore areas that have been killed by pine beetles. Since we’re disrupting the natural ecology of the lodgepole forest by suppressing fires, we’ll need to figure other ways to restore a healthy forest balance. Once the task of mitigating the most immediate fire danger is mostly done, we need to focus the same energy on reforestation.

Please click the ‘read more’ link to get the full story, as well as links to local resources and forest-related news stories from Summit Voice and other sources … Continue reading

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