More than 5,000 acres treated as Community Wildfire Protection Plan is implemented
In its latest annual report, the Envision Forest Health Council reports $23 million raised to date, as well nearly 1,100 community members taking action to implement Chaffee County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
The plan sets a course to improve wildfire resiliency through up to 30,000 acres of strategic forest treatments and additional actions. It was updated in 2020 using computer modeling technology to identify the right lands to treat, to reduce wildfire threat and protect assets like water supply and infrastructure. At that time, the Forest Health Council formed to ensure the plan’s goals were implemented. The council has grown in three years to more than 50 members.
The council reports 5,158 acres treated to date, plus about 16,500 acres in the pipeline. To fund this work, $23 million has been raised, including $3.7 million from the Chaffee Common Ground Fund, plus state- and federal-level investments that are detailed in the report.
“The community is making strides to not only complete forest treatments but also to prepare for an inevitable wildfire,” the report concludes. Additional highlights:
- 877 acres of private property treated, a 35-fold increase in three years
- Strong willingness among private landowners to thin trees
- Added forestry staff and sawyers to accelerate treatments
- A total of 7 Firewise USA communities, up from 3 in 2020
- Development code updates that require safer firefighter access and defensible space around new construction
- Completion of a similar CWPP in Lake County
- Growth in the number of Forest Health Council partners
- Continued participation in the Chaffee Chips slash haul away service
The report outlines challenges that include the need for added staff capacity to accelerate forest treatments, more prescribed burns and continued fundraising to cover the cost of inflation.