Citizens pitch in to pick up |

Citizens pitch in to pick up

PTARMIGAN – Never mind the snow. Never mind the early Saturday wake-up call. Never mind the back-breaking work. Nearly 40 citizens turned out Saturday morning to do their part to reduce fire danger on Ptarmigan – and many of the volunteers don’t even live there.

Summit County Wildland Fire Mitigation Officer Patti Maguire organized the project, along with help from the southwest office of the Sierra Club. Working with the Ptarmigan homeowners association, Maguire found 10 residents to participate in the program.

Homeowners volunteered to have Maguire inspect their properties, and identify fire hazards such as trees too close to houses and improperly placed propane tanks and stacks of firewood. Crews from Treeworks, an Evergreen contractor, then cut down trees Maguire marked. Saturday, the volunteers gathered to collect the slash and mulch it in chippers provided by Treeworks.

Representatives from the Sierra Club came from as far as Salt Lake City to participate in the project.

“We’re interested in fire protection and wanted to raise awareness of projects like this,” said Deb Robison, a Sierra Club field representative based in Boulder. “And the best way to do that is to get out there with the people and participate.”

Snake River firefighter Jim Oberriter provided his services as a sawyer, taking a chainsaw to some of the larger tree trunks. Oberriter said the project not only will help reduce fire danger but also will promote a healthier forest by thinning tree density.

The first home the group tackled was Ann Morrison-Clement’s cabin on 2021 Road. Morrison-Clement said the inspection of her property led to the cutting of 30 trees and the relocation of her propane tank, which had been placed directly under the cabin’s deck.

“Last year, after seeing the fire near the dam, I realized how close that was to home,” she said. “Then I was in Durango for Ride the Rockies and saw the fires down there. I realized the same thing could happen near my home in just a second. It’s something that always bothers you, and you know you should do it. I’m excited to have such a big group out to help me do it.”

Volunteers from Silverthorne, Frisco, Wildernest and even Denver showed up to lend a hand. Denver resident Tucker Brown said it was worth the drive.

“We were interested in the Sierra Club and heard about this, so we decided to come up and help,” Brown said.

The Ptarmigan residents encouraged other homeowners associations to look into such projects, noting that neighborhoods won’t be completely safe if only a few homeowners take action.

For more information on fire mitigation, contact Maguire at (970) 513-4237.

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