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Fire-prone communities nationwide take advice from Woodland Park

Fire-prone communities nationwide take advice from Woodland

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. - The Coalition of the Upper South Platte (CUSP) hosted a tour of Woodland Park Thursday for fire communities around the nation.

"It's a program that brings together people involved in forest fire, forest health and green restoration programs," said Carol Ekarius, executive director of CUSP.  "Between Hayman and Waldo and Black Forest, we've seen the impact on communities that fire has."

One stop of the tour focused on a homeowner's fire mitigation efforts.

Jim Ignatius is a former Teller County commissioner and a Woodland Park resident.  He's been working on mitigation his property for months.

"We've all seen what happens when these forest burn and then the floods come after that," Ignatius said.  

Ignatius removed 42 trees within 40 feet of his wooded home, creating defensible space in case of a wildfire.  For people who are wary of losing the beauty of the landscape, Ignatius assures it won't be lost.

"When you first cut the trees down, people like, 'You're stripping the land,'" he said.  "But if you look at it now, there's still a lot of trees.  You're still living in the woods. You're still backed up to the national forest, but you're doing a good job of defensible space."

Ignatius also warns homeowners that it takes time, money and labor to mitigate properly.  Time management is a key factor.

"It took 100 years to get this dense," he said.  "You're not going to cut it and treat it all in one summer or two summers or three summers."

Even Ignatius' property, a demonstration home, needs more work.  But Ignatius, who is also a former firefighter, is confident the work will give his home the best chance of survival and urges all wooded communities to take charge of mitigation on their property.

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