Breck defensible-space plan may take effect in coming months
summit daily news
Breckenridge, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE ” Homeowners here would have to create 30-foot firebreaks around their houses clear of trees and brush under a wildfire-protection ordinance being proposed by town officials.
The efforts are intended to prevent spread of fire and allow for safe evacuation for residents and safe access for firefighters.
Town staff members and the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District are working with the Colorado State Forest Service to develop a map designating the areas covered by the ordinance before the Feb. 24 town council meeting.
Areas south of County Road 450 (which begins at the 7-Eleven off Colorado 9) such as the lower Warrior’s Mark and Shock Hill subdivisions likely will be among the first affected by the proposed ordinance, which would take effect this summer.
The rest of the areas within town limits will be included in the next three to four years. The fire district will conduct inspections, and property owners would required to comply within a year. A $45 permit will be required before tree-cutting occurs.
If the proposal is adopted, the first round of certified letters alerting property owners of the requirements likely would be sent this spring, Scott said.
A draft of the ordinance indicates that defensible spaces should not be created through clear cutting, but the firebreak “shall generally be created by all flammable and combustible vegetation” within the 30-foot zone.
“Not everyone’s going to like it, and we know that,” Scott said, adding that it’s the fire district’s responsibility to prepare for a worst-case scenario. “This is bigger than someone’s landscaping around their house.”
She said property owners can visit http://www.firewise.org for preventative landscaping plans and suggested vegetation.
Town officials have recommended aspen, spruce and fir trees be planted as a less-flammable alternative to lodgepole pines. Those trees are less likely to be required for removal.
Within the proposed 30-foot firebreak, trees and vegetation that are well-spaced, well-pruned and unlikely to spread fire to other vegetation and structures may be exempt from cutting, according to the draft.
The ordinance also would require property owners to reduce fuels up to 75 feet away from structures.
Property owners not compliant one year after inspection could face a tripling of the permit cost to $135 or other action, Scott said.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or
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