Wildfire Council updates plan, considers watershed studies | SummitDaily.com

Wildfire Council updates plan, considers watershed studies

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FRISCO – An update to the Summit County Community Wildfire Protection Plan is under way to include goals, need for citizen preparedness, improved maps and more.

First adopted in 2006, the plan “outlines an active process for reducing hazards in the wildland-urban interface through fuel-reduction projects,” according to the website at http://www.co.summit.co.us/wildfiremitigation, where a draft of the 2010 plan is available.

Since its adoption, about 2,600 acres of trees have been removed to help protect local communities from catastrophic wildfire.

The plan’s mapped focus areas outline parts of the county considered to be of high priority in the event of a fire.

“It’s the neighborhoods that are built into the woods,” said Steve Lipsher, public information officer for Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

The Summit County Wildfire Council – comprised of towns and government agencies ranging from local fire districts to the U.S. Forest Service – discussed on Wednesday the inclusion of critical watersheds in focus areas.

Local streams and reservoirs may become contaminated with sediment in the aftermath of a wildfire, causing serious problems for water users.

The Town of Breckenridge spent between $140,000 and $150,000 for a watershed study of the area above Goose Pasture Tarn, its water source, said town community development director Peter Grosshuesch.

Such studies help to identify ways to avoid contamination. They also can help bring in grant money for preparation.

“Nobody can do what’s been done for Breckenridge,” county Commissioner and Wildfire Councilman Bob French said of the study’s cost.

He said perhaps something of a lower level could be done for other parts of the county. The watershed issues are to be addressed at the council’s next meeting May 12.

The updated protection plan is expected to be approved at that time as well. Once the Wildfire Council approves the plan, it will go to the Colorado State Forest Service. When both entities have approved the plan, it is to be updated on their websites.

The new “Need for Citizen Preparedness and Evacuation Planning” section of the plan describes how evacuation orders are to be executed – with the incident commander identifying routes working with and law enforcement.

“Each wildfire incident and situation will be influenced by the current fire behavior, current weather conditions and available fuels. Therefore, it has been the decision of the Office of Emergency Management not to pre-identify and establish evacuation routes for wildfire.”

The plan explains communication methods to include reverse telephone dialing, text messages, the National Weather Service’s Emergency Alert system and more.

French said education is “probably the most important way for protecting the community from wildfire.”

Some $2,000 has been made available for community education in the next few months through local media and other methods such as magnets and door hangers.

Objectives include encouraging creation of defensible space – or firebreaks – around homes, fuels reduction in general and reducing structural flammability, Lipsher said.

Robert Allen can be contacted

at (970) 668-4628 or


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