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Chaffee Chips in action. Courtesy image.

It’s time to think about sharpening those saw blades and axes and begin now to make your plan to create a defensible space around your home. For the past couple of years, private landowners who used to be on their own in this task have gotten some real help.

The Chaffee Chips program makes short work of slash piles. Image courtesy of Chaffee Chips.

Again this year, Chaffee Chips will be coordinating free neighborhood slash removal and chipping services in seven geographic areas. The countywide fire mitigation program reduces the threat of wildfire by helping homeowners remove potential fire fuels.

In a county and a region that has already seen what wildfire can do, there may be nothing more important that can be done to protect not just properties, but the people who live there.

Property owners in the service areas are asked to cut and clear brush and trees before the event and pile them at their curbs. Since Chaffee Chips started in 2020, more than 400 landowners have created 1,400 piles of slash that were chipped on-site by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) or hauled away by Chaffee County Fire Protection District firefighters.

The 2023 service dates are:

May 10: Chateau Chaparral
May 17: Piñon Ridge Estates
July 11-13: St Elmo and Alpine
Sept. 19-21: Trail West Plus | CR 358A, 359, 362, 363, etc.
Oct. 3-5: Mount Harvard Estates | Riverside
Oct. 11: Piñon Hills
Oct. 17-19: Mesa Antero

Landowners can get detailed information about how to treat their property by requesting a free assessment from a CSFS forester. To schedule an assessment appointment, call 719-539-2579.

Once you’ve created your slash piles on your property, all Chaffee Chips participants are required to register those slash piles on Envision Chaffee County’s Chaffee Chips webpage (

Registration is necessary to schedule the piles to be picked up or chipped. A CSFS video is available that explains what to do to effectively treat your Home Ignition Zone to prepare for a fire.

Property owners in lower-elevation piñon-juniper forests need to be aware of the Ips bark beetle infestation. To prevent spread, do not cut any green/live piñon branches or do whole tree removal during the beetle’s active periods from April to early October.

Chaffee Chips service locations are chosen by the Envision Forest Health Council, based on Treatment Priority Areas outlined in the Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The service is funded by Chaffee Common Ground and CSFS grants.

Chaffee County Fire Protection District has trailers available for all landowners who want to reduce the threat of wildfire on their property. Call 719-395-6545 and the district will drop off a trailer for you to fill with wood slash which they pick up and haul away. The cost is $50 for residents in the fire district and $75 for those located outside the district. Wood chips can be purchased at the Chaffee County Landfill for $20 per front-end loader scoop.