Methodist Front neighborhood earns Firewise USA® designation
The Piñon Ridge Estates Property Owners Association received official designation as a Firewise USA® site. The community gained recognition in January 2021 under the POA board of directors, in partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and Chaffee County Fire Protection District.
The Decker Fire came within a mile and a half of the neighborhood in 2019 and residents were evacuated.
“That wildfire brought home the reality that it could definitely happen to us,” Board Chair Craig Sommers said. When wildfires erupted in California and the Pacific Northwest and then came roaring across Colorado in the summer of 2020, their interest and concern grew.
Firewise USA® recognition
- Reduces wildfire risk in a large area such as a subdivision
- Protects homes and their natural surroundings
- Benefits homeowners seeking property insurance coverage
- Can help determine who gets competitive federal and state grant funding
Steps to receive the designation are straightforward:
- Obtain a wildfire risk assessment
- Form a Firewise USA® committee
- Create an action plan based on the wildfire risk assessment
- Invest in reducing the community’s wildfire risk
These steps were pursued by Piñon Ridge Estates in conjunction with Chaffee Chips, a slash removal and chipping service that held an event in Piñon Ridge Estates in November of 2020. Created under Envision Forest Health Council direction, the program helps implement the Community Wildfire Protection Plan by fostering effective action to reduce risk and improve community readiness.
Piñon Ridge Estates becomes the 4th Firewise USA® Site in Chaffee County. Others are Maysville, Alpine and St. Elmo.
In 2020, Sommers and neighbor Ryan Gregory met with Chaffee County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Kent Maxwell and CSFS foresters J.T. Shaver and Josh Kuehn, who suggested specific ways to get ready for the Chaffee Chips slash haul away. They organized community work days to clear slash from a parking lot and open space area, as well as from around their homes.
“We made a lot of progress with Chaffee Chips that ties in nicely with the Methodist Front project,” Sommers said. As crews loaded slash into trailers to haul them to the landfill for chipping, Chaffee Fire Chief Robert Bertram encouraged the board members to become a Firewise site — a logical step to ensure continued community participation.
Gregory, the POA board secretary, submitted paperwork and the designation came through one month later.
“We did this for increased awareness on our own part and also to demonstrate to partners who gave us support that we are committed to protecting our community and surrounding areas,” Gregory said.
The Piñon Ridge POA, Chaffee County Fire and CSFS expressed appreciation of residents for their active part in creating defensible spaces in their neighborhood and getting better prepared for an emergency situation.
Get help taking steps in your neighborhood to become a Firewise site today! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.