See the informative video on "Ready, Set, Go" Wildland Fire Action Planning here.
During the mining boom of the late 1800’s, most of the lodgepole pine stands surrounding Breckenridge were clear-cut. The generation of the replacement stand was not actively managed, and therefore came back as a dense, even aged regrowth lodgepole forest.
Twenty to thirty years ago, the US Forest Service (USFS) was actively managing timber harvests in the Upper Blue in an effort to diversify the age and density of the lodgepole forest. When that practice ended here, it also ended in most of the rest of their jurisdiction in the state. The private sector responded by reducing capacity, and closing down most of the active sawmills and other forest products processing facilities that served the area.
The severe regional drought that occurred in 2002 left our monoculture lodgepole forests, that were nearing the end of their normal life expectancy, in a greatly compromised state to ward off a stand clearing infestations like the one which we are experiencing now. Among forestry experts, predictions for 90 to 95% mortality are common for the lodgepole stands in our area. Forest management agencies, local government, the private sector, and property owners have all mobilized in the years following the drought to develop plans to actively manage the forest in an effort to be prepared as best they can for a potential catastrophic forest fire. Staff has been working to coordinate these efforts in our community in order to avoid duplication, fill gaps in addressing the threat, and apply for outside funding to support these efforts.
Current Town Programs:
Town of Breckenridge forest health efforts are intended to address the ongoing mountain pine beetle infestation, provide wildfire protection, watershed protection, and jumpstart a regenerated forest with diverse tree species. See the following links for further information on our Town Programs.
Barney Ford burn piles from 2011 (C) Matt Thompson
Summit County Wildfire Council:
Much of Summit County's development occurs in the "wildland/urban interface", meaning that homes and businesses are built in close proximity to forested areas. Summit County's forests currently have or are anticipated to have a high risk of wildfire, which places many of our homes and businesses in danger from wildfire.
To address the potential for catastrophic wildfire, Summit County Government, local fire districts, Colorado State Forest Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, towns and other entities joined forces to develop the Summit County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (SCCWPP). This plan outlines an active process for reducing hazards in the wildland/urban interface through fuel reduction projects.
There are a number of efforts currently being pursued by varying combinations of all of the agencies mentioned above. Some are in the planning stages, others have already had significant on the ground work completed. Generally all of the efforts are consistent with the CWWP recommendations. Ranging from landscape scale, down to individual properties, those efforts include:
As you can see, we have been very active in planning for forest management on all fronts. The RWB Fire District has been instrumental in helping us develop most of the elements in our planning, and has been a co-applicant on our grant applications. The layered effect of all of these plans, if brought to fruition, will hopefully give us a set of strategies that strikes a reasonable balance of allocating scarce resources, while providing reasonable protection for the community. The scope and scale of most of these plan elements is expandable if more resources materialize.
The Forest Service is moving forward with undertaking some forest fuel reduction projects in the Upper Blue Basin that are recommended as part of the USFS Breckenridge/Ophir Fuels Program.
Matt Thompson, Planner II, (970) 547-3188
Red, White & Blue Fire (970) 453-2474
Paul Cada, USFS (State of Colorado) (970) 887-3121
Dan Schroder, Summit County Wildfire Council (CSU Extension Office) (970) 668-3595
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