At a recent meeting of the West Region Wildfire Council, local stakeholders and partners heard a fire weather outlook briefing. This year's low snowpack, coupled with warmer than average temperature and lacking summer precipitation predictions, draw clear similarities between conditions seen in 2002 and 2012 -- two of the most destructive wildfire seasons in Colorado's recent history. While the events of this upcoming fire season will only be known with time, residents are encouraged to take steps now to prepare for wildfire.
Homeowners who live in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray or San Miguel counties have access to wildfire mitigation programs through the West Region Wildfire Council (WRWC), a Montrose-based, nonprofit organization.
Wildfire mitigation specialists from the WRWC are available to meet with residents to discuss specific wildfire risk reduction recommendations, a free service. The WRWC also offers funding assistance to homeowners who implement wildfire risk reduction projects, such as defensible space around homes.
Additionally, WRWC offers a community chipping program. The chipping program provides free curb-side chipping to high wildfire risk communities across the region. Residents enroll their community in the program, follow material and piling guidelines to stack hazardous vegetation and register their address for chipping. On a designated date, WRWC chipping contractors arrive in the community and chip the piles, free of charge.
"Since 2011, the WRWC has provided over $780,000 in funding to local residents to assist with the completion of mitigation projects. These projects have reduced hazardous fuels on approximately 2,500 acres in our communities that have the highest wildfire risk in the region," says Lilia Falk, director of the West Region Wildfire Council.
Homeowners interested in learning about their wildfire risk are encouraged to sign up for a free site visit. "A site visit is typically the first step. Homeowners can expect wildfire mitigation specialists to spend time discussing the home and property's wildfire risk. Wildfire mitigation specialists will provide detailed recommendations for what homeowners can do to address wildfire risk and connect them with resources to help them turn recommendations into action," says Jamie Gomez, WRWC assistant director.
To learn more about the West Region Wildfire Council's programs, or sign up for a free site visit, residents can call the WRWC's office, 970-615-7300 or visit COwildfire.org.