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Wildfire mitigation workshop offers resources for landowners

A house survived the Weber Fire near Mancos in 2012 thanks to careful planning and maintenance of defensible space. (Journal file)
Cost shares available for defensible space, forest thinning; $1 million available for projects

A wildfire mitigation workshop will be held April 22 at the Summit Lake Community Church, 36501 Colorado Highway 184 north of Mancos from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A social hour will follow at the Dolores River Brewery.

The event is hosted by the Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest Collaborative and Wildfire Adapted Partnership, in cooperation with San Juan National Forest, Montezuma County, CSU Extension Office and Colorado Division of Fire Protection and Control.

There is a suggested $10 registration fee for the workshop. Register at https://FireMitigationApril2023.eventbrite.com.

The workshop topics include: Defensible space, Chainsaw 101, Slash and Burn Pile Construction, Stacking for Chipping, and Funding and Cost Share Opportunities.

“The goal is to provide technical and financial resources for landowners who want to mitigate wildfire risk on their property,” said DWRF Coordinator Danny Margoles.

The meeting location is significant, he said, because the private lands between Jackson Lake and the Summit Lake area are consistently identified by experts as having high wildfire risk because of overgrown forests.

Southwest Colorado was recently awarded $1 million by the Department of Natural Resources Strategic Wildfire Program to help mitigate the danger on private lands.

Margoles said a portion of the funding is being directed to the Summit Ridge area to reduce wildfire risks and create defensible space to protect the many neighborhoods in the area from wildfire.

With the cost-share funding landowners can do the work themselves, or hire contractors to assist with projects. Assistance is available for small, medium and large projects.

Firefighters will demonstrate how to develop a safe pile burn during a workshop at Summit Ridge April 22. (Journal file)

Resources also help with what to do with all the underbrush and timber. It could be stacked for firewood for the homeowner, the timber may be viable to be sold commercially, or it could be disposed of in a burn pile controlled by a professional firefighter.

“At the workshop, we will show property owners what defensible space looks like,” Margoles said. “There are many financial opportunities to help landowners, especially in the Summit Lake area.”

Instructors will show how to develop and build a burn pile at the workshop, but it will not be ignited.

Margoles cautioned against letting your guard down about the ongoing drought because of one wet winter.

“Even though it is a wet year, the wildfire risk is still there,” he said. “This is a really good year to get some work done.”

A website will launch soon for people to sign up for wildfire mitigation funding, Margoles said.

For more information visit the Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest Collaborative website.