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Free workshops to review wildfire mitigation, defensible space and home hardening techniques

Events on community preparedness to provide resources, training
Mike Kristensen, a seasonal wildland firefighter with Durango Fire Protection District, clears gambel oak near Edgemont Highlands in 2021. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Want to see Smokey Bear run a chain saw? You just might get to.

In an effort to raise awareness of the steps that homeowners should take to improve the chances of a home’s survival in the event of a fire, the Wildfire Adapted Partnership is hosting a free event on May 4 in the Forest Lakes subdivision in recognition of wildfire community preparedness day.

The two-part schedule will begin with speakers, to be followed by a rotation of 30-minute workshops on chain saw safety, fire mitigation basics, how to create and maintain defensible space, and home hardening techniques.

Partners include La Plata County government, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, Upper Pine Fire Protection District, the San Juan National Forest and the Colorado State Forest Service.

Smokey Bear will be in attendance, as well as a representative from Stihl, a leading chain saw manufacturer. The county building department will have materials with which to make reflective address signs.

“These workshops are going to be geared toward homeowners and some practical steps that they can take at their home and other property to reduce their wildfire risk,” said WAP Eastern La Plata County Coordinator Ryan Cook.

Wildfire mitigation and creating defensible space can be a costly enterprise, depending on the size of the property and the density of brush on it. The workshops will provide information to property owners on both how to do some of the work themselves, as well as the assistance available to fund more extensive mitigation through contractors.

The event will be held at on the soccer fields near the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District administration building located at 82 Alpine Forest Drive in Bayfield. Things will kick off at 10 a.m. with UPFPD Fire Chief Bruce Evans, who will discuss conditions heading into the upcoming fire season.

A representative from the SJNF will also discuss the Grassy Mountain project, a 600-acre cross-boundary hazardous fuels reduction project near Forest Lakes. Work there is expected to begin later this year.

Workshops will start at 12:30 p.m. and last a half-hour, such that attendees may rotate through all of them.

“Fire season is right around the corner and so we want to give residents that knowledge and those tools to reduce their wildfire risk before we’re in the peak of wildfire season,” Cook said.

The event is open to all members of the public, not just residents of Forest Lakes or La Plata County.

Questions can be directed to Ryan Cook at rcook@wildfireadapted.org.


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