Summit County adopts new wildfire regulations
The Summit County government has adopted new land-use regulations intended to reduce wildlife risk and made major updates to its Community Wildfire Protection Plan, moves prompted by a particularly intense 2017 fire season that officials hope will make neighborhoods safer.
“The Peak Two Fire was a sobering reminder of how real the threat of wildfire is in Summit County,” Commissioner Dan Gibbs said in a statement, referring to a July wildfire that burned 80 acres near Breckenridge. “We’re very fortunate that the fire didn’t make its way into our neighborhoods, but we have to be proactive in taking concrete steps to reduce our exposure to those types of risks.”
Wildfire-related amendments to the Land Use and Development Code include new requirements for assessing wildfire hazards and potential mitigation measures when updating master plans — and as part of any new rezoning, planned unit development or subdivision application.
New landscaping regulations also set requirements for creating defensible space, or areas around a structure thinned of vegetation to create firebreaks. Additionally, those rules address the storage of combustible materials like firewood.
Some of the regulations were already in place in different parts of the code, but the changes adopted by the Summit Board of County Commissioners this month ensure they are uniformly applied across the county’s building regulations.
“We wanted to ensure that the Countywide Comprehensive Plan, the Basin Master Plans, the Land Use and Development Code and the Community Wildfire Protection Plan all speak the same language and are aligned with one another to support our wildfire mitigation efforts,” Summit County Senior Planner Lindsay Hirsh said in a statement.
The Community Wildfire Protection Plan, meanwhile, was updated to include significant map revisions that reflect vegetation changes across the Summit County landscape since the pine beetle ravaged area forests a decade ago.
Members of the Summit County Wildfire Council use the CWPP to identify wildfire hazards and develop projects to address them. To date, more than 150 hazard-reduction projects have been completed in Summit, according to the county government.
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