Improve Fire Prevention and Suppression Reduce Hazardous FuelsRestore Fire Adapted Ecosystems Promote Community AssistanceSummary


WGA Goal - Promote Community Assistance

Actions to meet goal

  • Reduce losses to communities from wildland fire
  • Promote markets for traditionally underutilized wood
  • Promote opportunities to continue and enhance sustainable livestock grazing as part of restoration strategies
  • Increase incentives for private landowners to address defensible space and fuels management needs on private property
  • Promote local government incentives through fire-sensitive land use planning

Boulder County Wildfire Codes

Boulder County has wildfire mitigation regulations for any new building. Since 1993, a Wildfire Mitigation Plan must be submitted to, and be approved by, the Wildfire Mitigation Coordinator in the Boulder County Land Use Department, before a building permit is issued. Any new structure requires a Site Plan Review, which triggers the Wildfire Mitigation Plan. A foundation inspection will not be done until the mitigation work is completed. Prior to the final inspection, all remaining items of the Wildfire Mitigation Plan must be addressed. Any homeowner or private contractor can write a mitigation plan for the builder, but the final check has to come from either Colorado State Forest Service or the Land Use Department. Additionally, since 1993, the County requires that any new structure of 1000 square feet or more must have defensible space, and since 1990, all new roofs must be Class A fire retardant. This is for all new buildings as well as any new roof covering 30% or more. Since 1992, sprinklers are required in houses of 3,600+ square feet.

Colorado State Forest Service

CSFS signCSFS works cooperatively with federal, state, and local fire agencies on defensible space plans and marking, wildfire mitigation thinning, prescribed fire, fire information and education. CSFS prioritizes individual defensible space treatment work. The bulk of their mitigation efforts are geared toward individual defensible space treatments, especially one-on-one work at the subdivision level. Demand typically outstrips what they can fund by 2-to-1. CSFS also funds three fire departments that have mitigation crews to do wildfire mitigation treatment: City of Boulder, Cherryvale and Boulder Mountain Authority.

CSFS Mitigation Grants

In FY03 the Boulder District had three separate grant programs for interface mitigation projects: Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) which were the individual private property treatment grants; the Competitive WUI (competitive SFA grants), that were larger grants to fire districts and homeowners associations for mitigation treatment work, and the Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP) which is also for individuals to do mitigation work. In FY03 defensible space grants were capped at $50,000 for each CSFS district by CSFS HQ. The Boulder District received $50,000, of which Boulder County received $42,317.50 in FY03 for private property individual defensible space, forest thinning and fuel breaks. In FY03, under the WUI grant, 29.5 acres of defensible space were done, 34.5 acres were thinned, and two fuel breaks were done on 4 acres. Although defensible-space grants were capped by HQ, the Boulder District implemented private property mitigation work via their other competitive State Fire Assistance (SFA) grants and FLEP. In addition to the $42,317.50, Boulder County had $306,000 worth of SFA grants and $9,075 FLEP grants that focus on wildfire mitigation, the majority going toward private property fuels reduction treatment. The SFA grants did defensible space and thinning on 183 acres. For instance, the three fire districts mentioned previously that have mitigation crews were funded under the SFA grants: Boulder Mountain Authority received $60,000, City of Boulder $25,000, and Cherryvale $25,000. These grants funded these fire departments fuels mitigation crews to do private property treatment work in their districts. The FLEP grants treated 112 acres from defensible space work, forest thinning, and chipping.

In FY02, CSFS had three separate grant programs for interface mitigation projects: Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) which were the individual private property treatment grants; the Competitive WUI (competitive SFA grants), that were larger grants to fire districts and homeowners associations for mitigation treatment work, and the Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP) for individuals to do insect/disease mitigation work. The WUI grant funded $96,681.85 accomplishing 29 acres treated for individual defensible space, 52 acres thinned and 70 acres of fuel breaks. The competitive SFA grant funded $273,986 accomplishing 559 acres treated, defensible space and/or forest thinning, and 11 fuel break acres treated. The SIP funded $7,075 treating 15 acres for insect and disease management.

Boulder County Chipping Reimbursement Program

Boulder County has a Chipping Reimbursement Program that offers financial assistance to mountain communities to conduct community-chipping projects. The program is designed to help offset costs associated with the creation of defensible space and complements other wildfire mitigation activities happening in communities. The County must approve of project funding before the project takes place. Acceptable projects will generally serve at least 30 property owners. Each community must hire their own chipping contractor, and be responsible for all coordination efforts, local distribution of wood chips and payment, the County will reimburse the homeowner after project completion. Each community's contribution will be 60% (if there are more than 12 homeowners, 70% if less than 12) of daily chipping costs for four days, and 100% of any additional chipping costs incurred. The County will generally support only one chipping project, per community, per year.

WUI pictures

City of Nederland's Biofuel-Energy Plant

The Bio-energy Task Force of the Winiger Ridge Project is working with the town of Nederland and a partnership involving the U.S. Forest Service, Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation, Delta Dynamics, State Health Department has developed a biofuels project inBiofuel energy plant picture Nederland where wood chips and related biomass from local fuels reduction efforts are heating and providing power to the Nederland Community Center. The project is a 20 horsepower boiler that produces 5,000,000 BTUs per hour. In January 2004, the heating plant began operating and the community center is now being heated with wood chips produced locally from wildfire mitigation and forest improvement activities. The plant produces steam and electricity that enables the community center to be taken of the electricity grid. The project started in the summer of 2002 after the Hayman Fire. Nederland sought funding from the USFS ($40,000), EPA ($35,000) and the governor's office ($40,000), in addition to $250,000 from their own coffers. The project resulted in a full-time position, which is paid for out of the savings from natural gas. Nederland has an agreement with the USFS to get the woodchips from the Winiger Ridge and Sugarloaf projects; and therefore, has at least a 10-year supply of chips in the pipeline. Gilpin County also has slash they need to dispose of and had been paying a private contractor $70,000 to landfill it. By hauling the slash to Nederland, Gilpin County is saving $35,000.

In addition to the work in Nederland, other projects involving heat or energy production are being discussed by the three-county/ten-member BioEnergy Task Force. The Task Force is made up of agency personnel, community officials, the Nederland Fire Mitigation and Forest Management Committee, the Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation, McNeil Technology and interested citizens. Finding niche markets will be one key to success in this overall strategy. Boulder County has conducted a feasibility study and just approved using a commercial wood-chip heating system for their new Parks and Open Space building. A number of potential entrepreneurs have come forward to look into using small diameter material for animal bedding, pellets or other uses.

High Timber Firewood & Logging Co.

High TImber signPhil and Jane Pitzer run High Timber Firewood and Logging Company. Their services include: Services: firewood (split, blocked, and custom cuts), timber management consultation, pine beetle removal and treatment, slash chipping, forest management and logging, fire mitigation (plans written and work implemented), difficult tree removal, hauling, and snowplowing. They run a crew of 3-5 depending on the season.

High Timber started out 25 years ago as a firewood producer, but as more people migrated to the area, fewer people wanted to deal with wood as a heating source. Consequently, they put their skills to use in the fire mitigation business. They work in Boulder, Jefferson and Gilpin Counties, but got their start in Boulder. Boulder requires fire mitigation plans to build a new house. High Timber can write plans and do the mitigation work. About 80% of their work is for privateHigh Timber trusk individuals on small plots of land from 1-60 acres; about 20% of their work is for local and state government. They use heavy equipment including log skidders, chippers, and skid steerers rubber tracked to tread lightly. They also use lighter equipment when appropriate, especially on the smaller parcels of land. In general, they chip the slash and small diameter timber, and either haul it or leave it for the homeowner to spread. They take larger diameter timber to their own sorting yard. In 2002, they treated 75 acres and in 2003 they treated 80 acres for private landowners. The work is very labor intensive, which means they don't treat a lot of acres. High Timber treats about 10 acres of public land a year. On private land they charge $2,500-3,000 per acre, while work on public land garners $800-1000 per acre. The biggest challenge High Timber faces is dealing with worker's compensation, which is 28% in the logging business.


LumberJacks also workes in the fire mitigation arena and splits its time between private and public work. LumberJacks was the contractor for Winiger Ridge Stewardship Contract #4 and has completed work on the 200 acre site. The cost for fuel reduction treatments ranged from $120/acre to $1,000/acre. When they do thinning, LumberJacks provides chips to the CSFS for use in the biofuels program in Nederland. Federal contracting makes up only a small portion of their work. LumberJacks clients are mainly private landowners, which constitutes approximately 80-95% of their business. LumberJacks writes Fire Mitigation Plans for new construction in Boulder County.

In addition to LumberJacks and High Timber Firewood & Logging, Boulder County and the vicinity has many other thriving utilization businesses, notable are Morgan Timber Products out of Larimer County, Fire Ready out of Nederland, and Jessie James Timber in Boulder County.

Anchor Point

Anchor Point's services include wildland urban interface hazard and risk assessments, ecosystem management including planning and implementation of prescribed fire, and education and training in wildland fire and incident management. Wildfire hazard and risk assessments comprise 60% of the work and include parcel level (individual home surveys), mid-level (jurisdiction/subdivision), comprehensive (parcel and mid-level assessments with recommendations), and community-wide FireWise planning and mitigation projects. Ecosystem management includes complete burn development: smoke assessment, fire behavior analysis, permitting, community outreach and public education; and implementation of prescribed burns: wildlife habitat enhancement, forest fuels reduction, range and forage improvement. Education and training via fire training, is about 30% of Anchor Point's work and includes National Wildfire Coordination Group, certification training, and custom series training. Prescribed burns and forestry practices are about 10% of the work and the prescribed burns are done for private ranches in Colorado and New Mexico. About 65% of Anchor Point's work is in Colorado, with the majority being in Jefferson and Boulder Counties. Anchor Point employs four full time staff and several contractors. I

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Copyright©2004 Toddi A. Steelman and North Carolina State University

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