Community Agriculture Alliance: Are you ready for a wildfire?
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The question is not if there will be wildfire activity this year, but when and where it will occur. Yes, public lands will probably make up the majority of land burned as it has in the past, but as we saw last year, a great deal of private property will get burned, too. And that begs the question: Are you ready?
Preparing yourself for a fire is no small task: There is figuring out what household items you’d save, making sure your paperwork and computer are ready to grab, setting aside medicine and clothing to take when evacuated, and getting the pets and their food ready for a quick move-out. If you have property other than a home, though, your job is much larger.
Farm, ranch and property owners have a number of other considerations. This article cannot begin to cover all of the items one needs to consider, but briefly, think through these things if you own property:
What buildings may burn? Do you have buildings that may be easier to save than others due to construction methods, location, what’s in them, etc.? If there is time to save one building, which would it be and for what reasons? (historic, ability to get you back into business, because of the items inside, etc.) Have you created a situation that will lend to its survivability, or is it more likely to be lost due to inaction on your part? Thinking through what you’ll need in order to get back into business and recover after the wildfire should be front-of-mind when answering these questions.
How will fire-fighting equipment get in and out? Do you live at the end of a long, undulating driveway? Do you have narrow, weight-restricted bridges coming in? Is there a place for equipment to turn around and get out if things go bad quickly? Are the gates wide enough for equipment and unlocked so they can get in? Having an emergency on top of an emergency makes an already difficult situation impossible; mitigate these items before it’s too late.
How could my livestock be impacted? Will you be able to quickly evacuate stock if needed? Do you have equipment ready to go and people lined-up to help use it? Do you have a location to go to that is safe, fenced and has water? Replacing manufactured items lost in a fire is difficult; losing lives creates a more difficult situation with an additional mental toll that no one needs when already stressed. What plans can you have in place to avoid a last-minute debacle?
If you live in Northwest Colorado and weren’t shocked by the fire activity our neighbors endured last year, you weren’t paying attention. Now is the time to learn how to prepare yourself best when the fire comes.
Join the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council on Thursday evenings beginning April 29 for the 2021 Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Conference. Each night, we will discuss different ways you and your community can mitigate and prepare for fire, focusing on farm, ranch and property preparations May 6. To learn more and register, visit RouttWildfire.org.
Todd Hagenbuch is director and agricultural agent for the Routt County Colorado State University Extension Office.
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