Breck plans wildfire mitigation projects | SummitDaily.com

Breck plans wildfire mitigation projects

ROBERT ALLEN
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

The Town of Breckenridge has about 77 acres of open space planned for fuel-mitigation and forest-health projects this year.

“We’re trying to be aggressive and get all the open space parcels addressed in the next several years,” said town open space and trails planner Scott Reid. “Three years is our goal.”

He said how soon such projects are addressed depends on funding, and those listed for this year are of highest priority based on proximity to the wildland-urban interface.

The town has set aside $150,000 this year for the open-space projects, and staff expect as much as $70,000 in matching grants from the Summit County Wildfire Council.

Most of the land is on the north end of town around Breckenridge Golf Club and nearby subdivisions. The projects involve removing mature and beetle-infested lodgepole pines and protecting structures and utilities from wildfire.

Town staff worked with the Colorado State Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Ecological Services and the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District to identify and prioritize the projects.

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Kim Scott, spokeswoman for the fire district, said watershed protection and road access are also concerns.

“(Mitigation aims to) try to decrease the density ” and a lot of it is forest health; lodgepole pines are sick and standing dead,” she said, adding that the projects aim to help regenerate the forests.

About five projects comprising 70 acres are eligible for the wildfire council grants because they help protect homes and utilities, and tend to be on steeper slopes ” requiring special equipment, according to town documents.

The other five projects comprising about 7 acres aren’t considered grant-eligible.

The town has also set aside $150,000 from the general fund for treatment of properties including public works, Valley Brook Cemetery, Carter Park, the golf course and Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.

“We want to create buffers and to maintain the character of these different properties,” town planner Jenn Cram said.

Town properties have been treated since 2004, when the pine-beetle epidemic got going. Cram said the emphasis will be on removing dead and diseased trees and “very careful spraying.”