$50K grant helps some residents lessen fire risk | PostIndependent.com

$50K grant helps some residents lessen fire risk

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

SILT, Colorado ” Jodie Bay of Silt Mesa is resting easier now, knowing that her home is more protected from the upcoming wildfire season, thanks to help from a state grant issued to the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District (BMFPD).

Bay is one of many residents living within the 440-square-mile fire district who qualifies for help from the cost-share grant to mitigate fire danger by creating a defensible space around her home that will hopefully slow the spread of a fire and allow firefighters to get near the house safely.

BMFPD Fire Chief Brit McLin applied for the $50,000 Colorado State Fire Assistance Grant last fall for three designated areas between Silt and New Castle ” the Asgard subdivision north of Silt; the combined neighborhoods of Elk Creek, Three Elk and The Cedars in New Castle; and the Garfield Creek and Baldy Creek areas south of Interstate 70 in Silt.

The grant is issued through the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), which identifies at-risk areas and assesses the wildfire threat to neighborhoods, communities and surrounding landscapes.

“The main reason these three areas were selected (for the grant application) was that they were remote in nature with winding roads, heavy fuels and the density of housing,” said Gloria Edwards, co-owner of Fire Ready in Glenwood Springs, a wildfire protection and forestry company that will help landowners safeguard their properties.

A small portion of the grant money is being used to conduct a study and the rest to assist landowners in the cost-share program, which will pay up to $1,200 of the mitigation work.

“We’re spending $14,000 on the CWPP plan, which leaves a pile of money for mitigation,” McLin said. “You can make a defensible space and the grant will pay 50 percent of the cost ” up to $1,200 ” after you do it.”

If a homeowner elects to do the work on his or her own, the grant will pay the person $17.50 per hour.

Creating a defensible space to mitigate wildfire includes doing things such as clearing forest and brush from around the house and thinning plants.

“That affects the way the fire acts,” Edwards said. “It can’t jump as easily from plant to plant. The fire slows down when its starved for fuel.”

It also gives emergency personnel a safe place to be.

“No house is worth a firefighter’s life,” McLin said.

There is a one-page application that includes your name and address and a rough sketch of the project. The application should be turned into the BMFPD and either McLin or Fire Marshal Orrin Moon will come out and inspect the property. The grant money is being distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Bay hired Fire Ready to do the work on her six-acre property and said she is thrilled with how it turned out.

“I was amazed. In two days, they used a giant Weed Whacker and sawed down some brush,” she said. “I was really surprised that they were able to leave clumps of sagebrush ” it wasn’t clear cut. I was very, very impressed. Now we have a defensible space around our house and the horse corral. We’re safe and the horses are safe.”

Applications can be picked up and dropped off at the BMFPD office at 611 Main St. in Silt, or for more information, contact McLin or Moon at 876-5738.

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