Individual homeowners learn about and implement Firewise improvements to their home and landscape differently. The facilitators of the Woodmoor Firewise Community at Monument, Colorado have recognized and embraced their differences. By learning to accept and work with homeowners where they are, they are able to help them take little steps that over time can create resiliency. Recognizing that everyone learns and takes action diversly has helped this community learn how to encourage their neighbors to make Firewise changes to their properties that collectively will make a difference. This concept identified in a scientific theory by distinguished communications professor, Everett M. Rogers Phd Diffusion of Innovations explains similarly how people adopt new ideas. Read about how they learned about each other, accepted each other and have taken action to reduce their risk to wildfire.
Woodmoor at Monument, Colorado
Woodmoor is a large community with about 2,500 owners of single dwelling homes on ½ acre lots. Two-thirds of the lots are in ponderosa pine forest. Others have mixed brush and grasses. The recent Waldo Canyon and Black Forest wildfires, which destroyed over 1,000 homes were a big motivator for Woodmoor homeowners to reduce fuels on their properties. Part of Woodmoor was on pre-evacuation alert during the Black Forest Fire in 2013.
Woodmoor held an outdoor fair with booths on Firewise Day. Experts manned booths and talked to homeowners about Firewise landscaping and mitigation based on defensible space guidelines, hardening homes against burning embers, and emergency preparedness. Homeowners took the information and plan to work on mitigating their properties over the next few years.
Also in 2014, the community held two classes on “Do it Yourself Mitigation”, with 80 homeowners in attendance. The Woodmoor Firewise group did property evaluations for 89 homeowners, and sponsored 6 reduced-fee disposal Saturdays during the summer months, when residents in neighboring communities could drop off their slash for only $5 per load.
Woodmoor says “As you and other leaders of Firewise communities know, education of homeowners must be continuous and “using all means”. I would guess that at least 40% of our owners have done some mitigation, and 40% have done none. The other 20% group are cautious deciders, and often need personal home and lot mitigation evaluations, “how to” mitigation classes, and other ways to be motivated. So our Firewise activities are focused on education and motivating the “open but undecided” owners, and owners who have done some mitigations, but need to do more. One of my personal surprises is how many residents have done “baby steps” of mitigation over the last 10 years. Maybe the first step was removal of flammable trees and shrubs within 15 feet of their homes. Next, they thinned their pine trees growing within 30 feet of their houses. A few thinned their pines to 10 foot crown spacing out to the property lines. Consequently, the lots of owners in our 40% mitigators group exhibit various degrees of mitigation. I do not know of any homeowner who did all the recommended mitigation at one time.”
Image of damage from Black Forest Fire on the Inci Website