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3/8/2018 Public input sought on proposed wildfire plan
A public meeting will be held in Westcliffe on Thursday, March 29, to discuss the proposed “Sangres Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan” (CWPP). The plan was developed in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 and the Colorado State Forest Services’ Minimum Standards for CWPP’s. It includes updating the 2007 Custer County Community Wildfire Plan by the development of a more site specific CWPP that covers a 29-mile long area on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Range. Individual communities within the study area will be able to expand upon the project goals, by developing their own specific community work plans as a plan annex. Doing so may help them to qualify for potential project funding within their communities, as they work to make those communities more resilient. This CWPP is a collaborative effort to guide the Wet Mountain Fire Protection District and Custer County stewardship management activities, including wildfire protection. The activities recommended in the plan are appropriate to meet fire district’s and county’s objectives and are expected to benefit the natural resources and reduce the risk from wildland fire. The plan is voluntary, and where possible, the fire district and county hope to apply the recommended practices, thus improving community preparedness, and increasing public safety. Landowner involvement is key to mitigate and reduce fuel loads on private property, as well as structure hardening and adopting firewise principles. The CWPP has been reviewed and approved by the Sangres Foothills CWPP Core Team, including the Office of Emergency Management, Custer County Sheriff’s Office, Wet Mountain Fire Protection District, Colorado State Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, San Carlos Ranger District and Bureau of Land Management. Other agency partners included the Custer County Conservation District and San Isabel Land Protection Trust. The plan was prepared by Keith Worley, forester and wildfire mitigation specialist with Forestree Development, LLC. The plan was developed to meet the minimum standards and key components of a CWPP as presented on the Colorado State Forest Service website https://csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation/communitywildfire-protection-plans/. Other local communities are working to develop, or are interested in developing, CWPPs for their communities, including the Woods at Buck Mountain and Cuerno Verde. Many components of this plan will serve as a guide or template for these homeowner’s associations and residents involved in CWPP planning in their community. The draft Sangre’s Foothills CWPP will be posted on the Custer County website: http://www.custercountygov.com/ Also, hard copies will be located at the West Custer County Library and at the Custer County Zoning Office. Comments on the draft from the public will be accepted no later than March 29; comments should be directed to the Custer County’s Office of Emergency Management at 783-2410 or ccoem@custercountygov.com. A community meeting will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, at the Wet Mountain Fire Protection District offices to formally present the plan and to answer any questions community members have, prior to the plan’s adoption.