The Game Trail subdivision northwest of Buena Vista received official designation as a Firewise USA site. The homeowners’ association gained recognition in December, in partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and Chaffee County Fire Protection District.
Firewise USA recognition reduces wildfire risk in a large area such as a subdivision, protecting homes and their natural surroundings. The designation benefits homeowners seeking property insurance coverage and can help determine who gets competitive federal and state grant funding.
Steps to receive the designation involve obtaining a wildfire risk assessment, forming a wildfire committee, creating an action plan based on the wildfire risk assessment, and making significant investments in reducing the community’s risk. Wildfire assessments are available from the CSFS Salida Field Office.
“We are in an active period of wildfire mitigation,” said Game Trail Homeowners Association (HOA) Forestry Committee Member Kari Allen. “People are paying attention to the risk of wildfire as well as the health of the trees. Now we can launch Firewise USA’s educational programming and continue our groundwork.”
More than 60 Game Trail homeowners participated in a Chaffee Chips fire mitigation event in August. They spent a collective 862 hours creating 185 piles of slash that were hauled away or chipped by service partners, which include Chaffee County Fire Protection District and CSFS.
Created under Envision Forest Health Council direction, Chaffee Chips helps implement the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) by fostering effective risk reduction action in Treatment Priority Areas as outlined in the plan.
The Game Trail HOA also updated its neighborhood-specific Community Wildfire Protection Plan this year, and it partnered with Adventure Unlimited to create a fuel break on the western end of the neighborhood. CSFS Salida Forester JT Shaver emphasized, “Working with Game Trail on their Firewise application, updating their CWPP and Chaffee Chips has really shown the value of working with an actively engaged community, and we encourage any community interested in reducing their wildfire risk to reach out to CSFS.”
As a member of the Game Trail Forestry Committee, Allen helps spread the word about the importance of mitigation and taking care of trees by addressing mistletoe infestations among ponderosa pine and ips beetle in the piñon pines. She won the Game Trail Ken Siefken Volunteer-of-the-Year Award in 2021, presented by the board of directors to an individual who shows the community’s spirit of unselfish leadership and volunteerism.
Game Trail becomes only the fifth Firewise USA Site in Chaffee County. Others are Maysville, Alpine, St. Elmo and Piñon Ridge Estates. The Game Trail Forestry Committee, Chaffee County Fire and CSFS expressed appreciation of residents for their active part in creating defensible spaces in their neighborhood and getting better prepared for an emergency situation.
The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University and provides staffing for the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. The CSFS provides professional forestry assistance, wildfire mitigation expertise and outreach and education to help landowners and communities achieve their forest management goals.
The CSFS Southwest Area serves southwestern Colorado from field offices in Salida, Alamosa, Durango, Gunnison and Montrose. For more information, visit csfs.colostate.edu.