Preparing for the big one:  A Southern Colorado community’s efforts exemplify effective fire mitigation

Blog Post created by lisamariesinatra Employee on Nov 8, 2012

A recent story from the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) serves as another great reminder of the success communities can achieve when neighbors come together to reduce their wildfire risk. Santa Fe Trail Ranch, a mountain subdivision of Trinidad, along New Mexico’s border will, according to Mark Loveall, assistant district forester with the CSFS La Veta District, “…aid firefighters in keeping most fire starts from destroying structures and threatening public safety.” Rotary-ax bruch cutter working-P6141433-Ghormleys

Mr. R.C. Ghormley, a resident of Trinidad who has been instrumental in organizing the community-wide mitigation efforts had this to say, “Having a fire here is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.”

Hmmm… I don’t know about you but this sounds to me like what we've been trying to remind folks through our Fire Adapted Communities initiative and the Firewise Communities Program. Oh, and just so you know Santa Fe Trail Ranch in Trinidad has been an official recognized Firewise site since 2006! Kudos to Santa Fe Trail Ranch for all the work they do!

Here’s an excerpt of the story sent to us by Ryan Lockwood of the Colorado State Forest Service:

With 325 acres just completed to complement existing fuelbreaks in the community, a mountain subdivision along the New Mexico border has now treated more than 3,000 forested acres – becoming a model for how Colorado communities can band together to reduce wildfire risk. 

Santa Fe Trail Ranch covers approximately 17,000 acres in the foothills southwest of Trinidad. I-25 provides primary access to the ranch, which abuts the state line on the south. Treatments to reduce wildfire risk in the community have been ongoing since 2005, when community leaders utilized funding and assistance from the Colorado State Forest Service to stimulate widespread landowner involvement.
Nearly 15 miles of fuelbreaks along roads, trails, ridgelines and other focal areas within or adjacent to the subdivision are now established to slow the spread and diminish the intensity of an approaching wildfire.

“Now we stand a chance when the big one hits,” said Dave Skogberg, a community leader who has been a catalyst to collective efforts.Treated-P6151441-Ghormleys

Dave, that’s what we love to hear!

Read the full story.

And tell us … what’s your community doing to become more fire adapted? Are your family members and neighbors taking Firewise principles into consideration when creating a safer home ignition zone? We’d love to share your stories with our audience. Here in NFPA’s wildfire division we can say without a doubt that your successes continue to inspire and inform people who are living and working in similar high wildfire risk areas. Many folks are looking for ideas to help them get started or ways to keep them motivated during this continuous journey to keep communities safer from fire.

Just as Mr. Ghormley aptly stated in the story, it’s not a matter of “if” wildfire threatens an area, but when. So let us know ... Are you prepared?