Community Agriculture Alliance: Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council |

Community Agriculture Alliance: Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council

Kristin Mortenson
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Wildfire may not be at the forefront of your mind these wintry and snowy days, but a quick peruse of the news finds that it is still in the headlines. 

Millions of acres have burned, thousands of homes have been destroyed, and over two dozen people have perished due to wildfires in Australia. And it has only been a few months since the nearly 78,000 acre Kincade Fire ripped through Sonoma County in California. 

The need to make communities more fire adapted is ubiquitous. Recognizing that wildfire is an ever-present concern, various stakeholders in Routt County came together to form the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council. The council will provide means to better address the wildfire mitigation needs at the county level, understanding Routt has different communities, with different vegetation types and priorities.   

Through collaborative efforts, councils are formed to address the needs of a specific community or region. Most councils focus on facilitating fuels reduction at the neighborhood level, providing an outlet for mitigation information and education dissemination and facilitating multi-agency mitigation coordination. There are several other wildfire mitigation councils in the northwest area of Colorado that are serving as mentors to the Routt process. 

This council is a product of the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Roundtable and Conference held in Steamboat Springs in May 2019. During this conference resource professionals, county and city stakeholders and general public gathered to assess the wildfire mitigation needs of Routt County and provide information on fire mitigation and management. Information on existing councils was also presented which inspired a follow-up meeting to discuss the formation of a council locally.  

The newly formed Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council is composed of county and city representatives, local state and federal officials, nongovernmental organizations, homeowners associations as well as local businesses and private landowners.  

The council is working on defining its mission and goals, as well as its governance and fiscal structure. The group will also be considering the local needs highlighted during the roundtable and conference, which included:

  • A potential update of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan
  • Addressing the build-up of fuels on private and public property
  • The need to better educate county residents on the importance of home and community wildfire mitigation
  • The need for a local outlet of information on mitigation and mitigation resources available

Watch for more information and activities from the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council in the months to come, especially when the green returns. For more information on the council and other natural resources management questions, contact the Steamboat Springs Field Office of the Colorado State Forest Service.

Kristin Mortenson is the Colorado State Forest Service administrative assistant.

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