National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 7. Recently, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) selected 125 communities to receive $500 project funding awards provided by State Farm. These communities will be implementing fuels reduction projects and wildfire mitigation education activities on May 7.
Colorado communities received 16 of those 125 awards, and four of the Colorado awards were received in Southwest Colorado: one each in Archuleta and Montezuma Counties and two in La Plata County.
In La Plata County, two FireWise communities, Falls Creek Ranch and Vista de Oro, have planned activities. Vista de Oro residents are partnering with Fort Lewis Mesa Fire and La Plata County to conduct fuels mitigation in the road right-of-way and on private land along CR 117, a densely forested road leading up to their subdivision.
Falls Creek Ranch will be providing residents with 600 compostable lawn bags for people to use for pine needles, pinecones, and leaves, which they will collect at their annual Firewise workday on May 7 and start a large compost pile for gardeners in their neighborhood. In addition, they will be creating easier access to their white fir Christmas tree area and distributing maps of the neighborhood showing current homeowners, designated safe areas, and emergency escape routes.
In Archuleta County, FireWise and the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership will host a BBQ and education event on Reservoir Hill to highlight recent mitigation activities there.
In Montezuma County, the FireWise chapter will be retrofitting a house on the campus at Mancos Community College that will be used for regional firefighter and EMS training. The house, located in the piñon/ juniper woodlands, has many examples of ignition hazards. Adult and youth volunteers will help transform the house by enclosing the deck, designing and installing a fire-resistant landscape, screening vents, reducing fuels, and more.
There were a total of 271 communities that applied for funding awards this year from 40 different states. NFPA/State Farm have been sponsoring this event for three years. Each year State Farm has increased the number of project awards available. FireWise of Southwest Colorado has been fortunate to receive an award every year.