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Members of the Envision Forest Health Council are meeting with the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) on Tuesday, May 12, to give an update on one of its new programs called Chaffee Chips. Below is some basic information about the program. The initial parameters of a new program to be called “Chaffee Chips” will be outlined.

The program is known as Chaffee Chipswoul launch this fall. It is intended to empower community members to create defensible space around their homes by coordinating neighborhood slash removal and chipping services. The program is offered by Envision Forest Health Council partners to reduce the threat of wildfire in Chaffee County.

Clearing dead and diseased trees and underbrush makes an entire community safer. (Courtesy photo)

Property owners engaging with the service events are asked to clear brush and trees and pile slash near their curbs in the weeks leading up to a three-day Neighborhood Fire Mitigation Event. During the event, homeowners work with service partners to load or chip slash that is hauled away for disposal at the Chaffee County Landfill. The landfill uses a large grinder to chip the woody debris.

The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) offers property assessments in the months before the event to help homeowners make a fire mitigation plan. This information includes what trees should be trimmed or removed near the structure and other tips to create defensible space in the Home Ignition Zone, thereby improving wildfire resiliency.

The Chaffee Chips program will be offered free of charge to homeowners in four areas of Chaffee County in 2020. Locations are chosen by the Envision Forest Health Council to advance private property mitigation work needed to implement the Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan successfully. Dates for the service are as follows. Maps of these areas are available to the press upon request:

  • Base of Mt. Princeton / C.R. 321 – Aug. 21-23
  • Mesa Antero – Sept. 11-13
  • Lower Chalk Creek drainage / Alpine – Oct. 23-25
  • Methodist Mountain (west of Decker Fire scar) – Nov. 13-15

The wildland-urban interface (WUI) is an area where structures and other human developments meet or intermingle with wildland fuels. Homeowners are responsible for taking steps to protect their property and help alleviate the spread of wildfires. By creating defensible zones, homes are less vulnerable and the chance of spreading wildfires is significantly reduced.

According to the Colorado State Forest Service, it is not a matter of if a wildfire will impact home in the WUI, but when.

“Creating defensible space gives your house a fighting chance against an approaching wildfire,” said CSFS Salida Field Office Forester J.T. Shaver.

Chaffee County Fire Rescue initially developed Slash-hauling for community members or groups engaged in fire mitigation work. The Forest Health Council partners contributing to this new service include Chaffee County Fire Rescue, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado Fire Camp, Chaffee County Office of Emergency Management, Chaffee County Landfill and Envision Chaffee County. Chaffee Chips is supported by Chaffee Common Ground grant funding. Additional funding for trailers was provided by a CSFS Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Reduction grant.

The Envision Forest Health Council is a group of Chaffee County leaders dedicated to reducing wildfire danger by implementing the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The plan maps where to treat both public and private lands to cut the risk wildfire poses to community assets in half by 2030. Contact for more information.