From neighborhood fire mitigation plans to property risk assessments, let’s become a fire adapted community.
The Marshall fire burned through homes and businesses in Boulder County just over a week ago causing a devastating amount of destruction. This was a stark reminder to Colorado communities and residents of the fire danger that goes along with living in this beautiful area.
Developing an effective wildfire mitigation strategy is key in preventing the spread of low to moderate intensity wildfires. However, even if you utilize every mitigation practice in the books, it may not help contain the spread of an extreme-intensity wildfire like the Marshall Fire. That fire was powered by hurricane-caliber winds blowing over 100 mph.
Keeping all of that in mind, the City of Castle Pines is committed to taking proactive measures to protect the community. The City has partnered with South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) to develop neighborhood wildfire mitigation plans for each neighborhood in Castle Pines. Though the process is still underway, Castle Pines will eventually have plans that cover the entire community.
Additionally, instead of using mechanical means to reduce the volume of Gambel oak growing in the open space surrounding neighborhoods in the City of Castle Pines, the City, several HOAs and SMFR will be utilizing herds of goats. According to Einar Jensen, Risk Reduction Specialist for SMFR, “Goats are more effective than tractor-mounted grinders, chemicals, or chainsaws at long-term mitigation in Gambel oak ecosystems. They remove leaves from lower branches (ladder fuels) to prevent wildfires from growing into canopies, eliminate weeds because their stomachs neutralize seeds, and fertilize soil with their urine and feces”. Neighborhoods in Castle Pines have utilized goats since 2015 and as summer approaches, you will start to see the goats throughout our community again.
Here are a few other ways we can all work together to minimize risk and the spread of a fire:
- Representatives from South Metro Fire Rescue are available to conduct free risk assessments for your property, both residential and commercial. They will then provide feedback on improvements that could help reduce fire risk. Contact Einar Jensen at Einar.Jensen@southmetro.org, to set up an assessment.
- If you are not interested in an assessment, take action to prepare your home and property for wildfire. The Colorado State Forest Service provides recommendations around steps that will reduce the ignitability of your home.
- View the Castle Pines City Council June 2020 study session on wildfire mitigation.
- Review the Douglas County wildfire mitigation and risk reduction resources as well as the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
- Building codes have changed since wildfire knowledge has improved over time, the City is currently under the 2015 ICC Building Codes. If your home was built under previous building codes, it may be worth investing in fire resistant roofing, siding, etc.
“We can work together to update our communities to adapt to fire’s existence," states Jensen. Thank you to South Metro Fire Rescue and to our residents for partnering with the City of Castle Pines to keep our community safe.
Stay tuned for a follow-up article related to evacuation and preparation in case of a wildfire.