BOCC hands out $29,000 to local neighborhoods
SUMMIT COUNTY – Seven local neighborhoods will split $29,000 to help clear potentially dangerous wildfire fuels like dead trees and slash in and around their properties.The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the projects last week, as recommended by the county’s wildfire council, which is comprised of local elected officials.The money comes from a $50,000 reserve county commissioners dedicated earlier this year to support neighborhoods in their fuel reduction efforts. The other $21,000 will be divvied up later this summer among a second round of applicants. The projects getting a financial boost are located near Black Bear Court in Wildernest, at Highland Meadows near Summit High School, at Keystone Ranch, at the Keystone Center near Tenderfoot, at Pebble Creek Ranch north of Silverthorne, at Prospector Village in Wildernest and near the St. Johns Condominiums in Keystone.The council selected those areas out of 18 applications based on criteria established by the council, which stated that the projects had to be ready to go, had to have substantial private funding, had to significantly reduce the risk of wildfire and the risk to life and structures and the subdivision needed to be identified as an area of focus in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.The projects include removal of dead trees, thinning forests, clearing hazardous fuels and felling, limbing and burning beetle kill trees. For instance, the Pebble Creek Ranch HOA plans to remove 2,300 Lodgepole pine trees under attack by the mountain pine beetle and thin 16 acres of trees. The county will contribute 10 percent of the costs to that project, which is slated to be completed this summer, according to a memo furnished to the BOCC by the wildfire council.The exact amount of money allotted to each subdivision hasn’t yet been determined by the council, but each project will be paid for on a cost-sharing basis between the homeowners and the county.County fire mitigation officer Patti Maguire said she’ll meet with each subdivision to hammer out the details of what each treatment will include and a timeline.She said there isn’t any sort of goal to have the treatments completed before the pine beetle flies in July.”This isn’t a pine beetle project; it really isn’t,” Maguire said, adding that it’s more of a targeted effort to protect high risk areas from wildfires, and that the pine beetle problem is a much more substantial.Most of the project areas border Forest Service lands, but not all the adjacent public lands have gone through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) planning process, which is necessary to determine what kind of prescription would be suitable on those lands, whether it be selective thinning, a more comprehensive harvest or other possibilities.But, Forest Service Dillon District Ranger Rick Newton said that fact doesn’t bar all work from moving forward.”There’s obviously more work than money at this point, so there’s a lot of flexibility on how we prioritize it, what we get done,” Newton said.Newton is aiming to have the NEPA process completed on public lands in the wildland urban interface done by mid-summer through the streamlined categorical exclusion process.To Apply …Applications for a second round of money are due July 1. Applications can be obtained online at http://www.ldfr.org or by calling Patti Maguire at (970) 513-4237.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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