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July 10, 2012
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Town discusses how to address wildfire risk

SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Fire Marshal John Mele presented concerns about wildfire risk in Snowmass Village to the Town Council on July 9, speaking in particular about brush clearing on private property in order to create a defensible space around homes. The council took no action at the meeting, although it discussed convening council members, firefighters, homeowners associations and others to find a way to address wildfire danger.

Much of the discussion focused around whether the council should take legislative action or simply educate residents about how to protect their homes, which is not only important to individual homeowners but also to stopping the spread of a fire.

Resident Gracie Oliphant suggested further educating residents, full- and part-time, and possibly creating jobs by hiring people to cut brush and clean up yards.

"How about trying education and encouragement and collaboration first?" she said.

Rick Griffin, president of the Snowmass Homeowners Association, said his organization is discussing changing its rules at its annual meeting next month. However, he said a town ordinance that could be enforced would be more effective.

"I can only second what Rick is saying, and I think it has to come a little bit from the government side to put teeth in it," said resident Wolf Gensch.

Griffin said addressing the issue of wildfire mitigation will have to be a coordinated effort.

"You need to get the different players around the table and talk," he said. "How many of us need another freaking committee? Not many, but to that point that's probably what it's going to take."

Mele said some municipalities, including Eagle County, amended existing building codes to add policies about fire mitigation.

"We've tried to make it voluntary," Mele said. "I think it's going to have to go a nudge more, but I'm happy (to do more education). But I think it's time to get serious. We're behind the curve here."

In other business, council appointed new members to fill two vacancies on the Environmental Advisory Board. Mona Newton will represent the Community Office for Resource Efficiency on the board, a three-year term. Debbie Shore, a former councilwoman, will fill the at-large seat, which expires in January. The Environmental Advisory Board makes recommendations to the Town Council regarding projects and policies that benefit the environment.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jul 10, 2012 06:07PM Published Jul 10, 2012 06:05PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.