Jefferson  County Case Study
Improve Fire Prevention and Suppression Reduce Hazardous FuelsRestore Fire Adapted Ecosystems Promote Community AssistanceSummary
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Jefferson county loation map

Jefferson County is Colorado’s second most populous county and located immediately to the west of metropolitan Denver. With 527,056 inhabitants, Jefferson County is also one of Colorado’s fastest growing counties and finds 33% of its population living in the wildland urban interface. Jefferson County covers 774 square miles and is home to a large portion of the Pike National Forest, as well as smaller areas of the Roosevelt and Arapahoe National Forests. According to the US Census, the median home value is $187,900 with a recent wildfires picturemedian household income of $57,339. The county is comprised mainly of full-time residents, with only 0.7% seasonal homes.

Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Douglas fir and gamble oak make up the vegetative profile of Jefferson County, which receives an annual precipitation of 15.4 inches per year. Starting in 1996, in Jefferson County a number of large wildfires that threatened homes: Buffalo Creek (1996), Hi Meadow (2000), Snaking and Black Mountain (2002), Schoonover (2002) and Hayman (2002). The fires provided a powerful incentive for Jefferson County Commissioners and staff to address their wildfire threat.

Addressing the Threat

The County Commissioners have supported various efforts to mitigate the wildfire risk in Jefferson County. The Commissioners have provided money and staff positions to assist mitigation efforts. They have also supported regulatory changes. According to Colorado State Forestry employee Alan Gallamore, "what makes Jefferson County unique amongst most of the counties along the Front Range is a commitment by the County Commissioners and its staff to provide a sustained effort to educate the public, provide incentives to the public-in other words forest management and fuels mitigation planning on a community basis".

While the County, Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and Jefferson county pictureUnited States Forest Service (USFS) all work on the wildfire problem in Jefferson County, especially on wildfire suppression efforts, there is no single forum that allows various participants to come together on a regularbasis to address the mitigation problem they face. Rather, one-on-one interaction among agency employees is the dominant means of interaction.


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Copyright©2003 Toddi A. Steelman and North Carolina State University

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