What do you want protected from wildfire? Routt County officials seek community input on protection plan
Some assets in need of priority protection from wildfires in Routt County are obvious, such as human water sources, but organizers of the current update of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan want to know what other assets residents value highly.
To gather broad community input on wildfire protection values in Routt County, the county’s Office of Emergency Management and the nonprofit Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council are hosting four public meetings across the county on Nov. 14-17. In addition, all county residents are encouraged to complete an online survey by the end of November that is available under the Resources tab at RouttWildfire.org.
“We want to hear about your concerns and your level of wildfire awareness. The results of this survey and the feedback you provide will be incorporated into the CWPP and will be used to make our CWPP into something that is user-friendly and actionable,” according to the mitigation council.
Appetizers and beverages will be provided at the four community meetings set for 6-8 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Hayden Center, Nov. 15 at North Routt Fire Station No. 2 near Steamboat Lake State Park visitor center, Nov. 16 at Stagecoach Fire Station, and Nov. 17 at the Routt County commissioners meeting room, 136 Sixth St., in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Everyone who attends an in-person meeting will be entered into a drawing to win a medium-sized Stihl chainsaw that can be used to remove dead or fire-hazard trees on properties. Meeting attendees also can be placed on a prioritized list to receive a free on-site Home Ignition Zone evaluation conducted by local fire experts in the spring, said Carolina Manriquez, council secretary and Colorado State Forest Service forester.
“Our CWPP is inviting the community to come provide critical feedback for what are their values that they think is at risk,” Manriquez said. “It’s your chance to voice priorities in wildfire risk reduction in Routt County for where we should be focusing our risk-reduction efforts.”
Manriquez said the Community Wildfire Protection Plan is based on scientific and on-the-ground conditions combined with the priorities of landowners willing to work with fire officials.
One of the top existing priority efforts for reducing wildfire risk is in the Fish Creek Watershed that provides the primary city water resource. Fire officials completed vegetation management work on 46 acres of fire hazard areas near the Fish Creek water treatment plant in the spring, and approximately 20 piles of wood from the work will be burned this winter, Manriquez said.
While gathering opinions and comments, the 20 multiple-choice questions on the CWPP survey also provide educational information. The survey asks questions such as:
- How concerned are you about wildfire near your property?
- How would you rate your home in terms of risk from wildfire?
- How prepared is your neighborhood for a large wildfire?
- Do you have an evacuation plan?
- Which of the following mitigation work have you done at your residence?
- What factors keep you from undertaking actions to reduce wildfire risk on your property?
Some homeowner associations have completed fuel reduction work recently, such as in The Sanctuary neighborhood that lies in the wildland urban interface on the east side of Steamboat. Other wildfire protection work is underway as part of the North Routt Fuels Reduction Project on the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District near areas of private property adjacent to forest land. The back side of Emerald Mountain also is a fuels reduction priority, Manriquez said.
The plan has not been updated since 2010, and it will guide wildfire preparedness and long-term mitigation strategies throughout the county.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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