Firewise USA community continues to host events every year
A quarter-acre wildfire on Taylor Mountain in the early 2000’s spurred residents of the tiny town of Maysville to organize and address their many fire mitigation needs, resident Mary Brown recalls.
“That fire was put out in just a day, but when things started burning up the canyon it caught our attention, made us sit up and realize that we better do something,” says Brown, a long-time board member of Friends of Chaffee County Fire. A handful of neighbors in the close-knit community situated along the South Arkansas River below Monarch Pass started talking.
Brown arranged for a series of wildfire risk and forest mitigation presentations by local foresters. Damon Lange with the Colorado State Forest Service suggested the neighbors develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan to list and prioritize needs and tasks. Kent Maxwell and Mark Thomas — Chaffee County Fire Protection District firefighters — provided knowledge of wildfire and fire behavior as well as resources.
We way underestimated the time it would take but there are professionals who know what to do and they will help you.”Maysville resident Mary Brown
The neighbors got to work. Suzanne Paddock and volunteer Chief Charlie Blake had started Friends of Chaffee Fire in 2002, and the Maysville community was able to fundraise for a new fire station — Station 5 — built in 2009 on land Brown and her now-deceased husband, Dr. Fred Brown, donated.
Station 5 is the newest of the Chaffee County Fire Protection District locations. It is the second of only two stations at the south end of Chaffee County. It serves Maysville and the surrounding area with three different types of firefighting engines.
The fire protection district procured the county’s first wildfire mitigation trailer and the Maysville residents were the first to use it to haul wood slash to the county landfill. Four additional trailers were obtained by the fire department in 2020 through grant funding provided by Chaffee Common Ground and the Colorado State Forest Service.
Maysville residents continue to host annual wildfire mitigation events in June. The community is one of four Firewise USA Sites in the county, meaning they are recognized for their efforts to reduce wildfire risk and protect their homes and natural surroundings.
With a fleet of trailers in-hand, Chaffee Chips started in 2020 to help other homeowners create defensible space around their homes by coordinating neighborhood slash removal and chipping services. Today, wood slash hauled to the landfill is chipped by a large tub grinder.
Efforts by the Maysville community demonstrated how grassroots organizing can really make a difference. We decided to model our countywide fire mitigation program around their successes.”Chaffee Fire Chief Robert Bertram
In 2020, nearly 200 homeowners participated in Chaffee Chips by creating 500 piles of slash. The service continues every year as a partnership among CSFS, Chaffee Fire and Envision Chaffee County. The Envision Forest Health Council chooses service event locations based on Treatment Priority Areas identified in the Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.