Summit funds fire mitigation work | AspenTimes.com

Summit funds fire mitigation work

Nicole Formosa
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County commissioners awarded grants to 11 local fire mitigation projects this week and plans to hand out up to another $230,000 this fall.

The BOCC doled out $65,200 to various homeowners associations and entities in the county on top of the $75,173 it gave in May through its fuels reduction grants program.

The county’s year-old program aims to reduce wildfire danger in the county by awarding matching grants to neighborhoods for projects such as thinning trees, creating defensible space around homes and clearing out dead and dying trees.

In this latest funding cycle, the largest award went to the Summit County Fire Council, which is the reviewing body for grant applications, for an educational sign program to let visitors know about the county’s changing forests.

The $18,000 will pay for six signs that will be put in places around the county with heavy foot traffic, such as the overview on Interstate 70, Hoosier Pass and the TenMile Vista trailhead, said county wildfire mitigation officer Patti Maguire.

Another $2,800 will go to the Town of Dillon to construct a 400-by-200-foot fire break in the Dillon Nature Preserve to protect the nearby homes in Summerwood if a blaze ever breaks out on the preserve.

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Other grants went to the homeowners associations of Bekkedal, Bill’s Ranch, Eagles Nest, Highland Meadows, Keystone West Ranch, Pebble Creek Ranch, Summit Estates and Lewis Ranch and the Willow Brook Metro District.

The next round of money will be even larger, thanks to three separate grants recently secured for the county’s program.

Lake Dillon Fire-Authority received $50,000 through the Colorado State Forest Service and another $40,000 in federal funding is also available through the State Forest Service. Earlier this month, the county won $140,000 in state money made available through House Bill 1130 sponsored by Summit’s legislative representatives, Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald and Rep. Dan Gibbs.

That portion of the money must be used to help protect critical water supplies and the grant dollars are good through June.

The county is looking to fund local projects as soon as possible and has set a Sept. 15 deadline for applications.

The fuels reduction program began last year when the BOCC awarded $50,000 to 15 HOAs. This year, the BOCC increased its contribution to $140,000.

The deadline for the next funding cycle for fuel reduction grants is Sept. 15. Applications are available by going to http://www.co.summit.co.us and clicking on “Wildfire mitigation.”