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Chaffee Chips to haul and chip tons of slash in Chalk Creek Canyon; mitigation program participation exceeds expectations

Homeowners in the Chalk Creek drainage have created more than 160 piles of slash in preparation for the Chaffee Chips neighborhood fire mitigation event taking place this weekend.

Service partners will chip or haul slash piles to the landfill on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Oct. 23-25. This is the third of four fire mitigation events hosted by Chaffee Chips this year.

“We’ve seen growing participation with each event as more landowners work to cut and clear flammable vegetation from their home ignition zones,” said J.T. Shaver, a forester with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS).

Creating defensible space around structures improves forest health and helps prevent the spread of wildfire. Shaver estimates that about 80 homeowners have already piled slash in the Chalk Creek drainage. The beautiful Chalk Creek Canyon is considered one of the most dangerous wildfire areas in the county, with one-way-in, one-way-out access. That unwelcome designation means that homeowners in the canyon have an added incentive to do what can be done to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Chaffee County Fire Protection District firefighters will work Friday on County Road 162 from west to east, loading four trailers at a time and hauling them to the landfill for slash to be chipped by a large grinder and used in landfill operations to bury trash.

A CSFS chipper crew will tackle slash in Deer Valley Ranch, then move to Eagles Roost and Falcon Drive on Friday.

Students from Colorado Firecamp will help Chaffee Fire load slash Saturday on County Road 291. The areas around County Road 289 and Chimney Rock, among others, are slated for Sunday.

“It’s possible we will need more time due to the volume of slash, so we ask that homeowners remain patient as we work to get every pile,” Shaver said. Homeowners are asked to help load their slash piles, if possible.

This is the county’s first year to offer the Chaffee Chips program. It is provided by Envision Forest Health Council partners to reduce the threat of wildfire in Chaffee County. The first event for the Chaffee Chips program, Mesa Antero subdivision, yielded forty-one trailer loads of slash which were hauled out of the subdivision.

The program helps implement the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which maps where to treat forest acreage for the highest community benefit. A third of the target areas are located on private property, making homeowner cooperation critical to its success.

The Chaffee Chips service is supported in-part by Chaffee Common Ground. Contact  to find out how to get involved in this community wildfire mitigation effort.

Featured image: J.T. Shaver, forester with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), left, loads branches into a chipper during a Chaffee Chips event in Pine Ridge Estates on Aug. 20, 2020. Also pictured is CSFS seasonal forester Josh Kuehn. Courtesy photo (Envision Chaffee County).