Water, fire danger worry city | AspenTimes.com

Water, fire danger worry city

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Bracing for a dry summer, Aspen will ask its citizens to conserve water and reduce fire danger, the City Council agreed Monday.

The council agreed to voluntary outdoor watering restrictions beginning in June and authorized spending up to $36,000 to help homeowners in certain neighborhoods clear vegetation that could help fuel a wildfire from around their homes.

City Manager Steve Barwick proposed hiring and training several part-time staffers to consult with homeowners on pruning and thinning vegetation around residences in neighborhoods where homes border on the national forest. The city would then offer free hauling or chipping of the brush that is cut.

Developments around the base of Smuggler Mountain and to the east, like the Knollwood subdivision, are among the worrisome areas, according to Barwick.

Standing deadfall and lots of underbrush are dangerous, according to Fire Chief Darryl Grob. Even a tree next to a house that appears healthy and green will have a low moisture content in times of drought, he said.

“The potential for burning is significantly increased,” Grob said.

The watering restrictions will limit citizens to watering every other day. City parks that use the municipal water supply will face the same restriction.

“It will have an impact. It will brown them out, but it won’t kill anything,” said parks director Jeff Woods.

Left unclear was how the city golf course and playing fields at Iselin Park will be treated. They are irrigated with ditch water.

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