As I shared last month in the Saws & Slaws article, we hosted Team Rubicon to a wildfire mitigation event in Coal Creek Canyon in August. It was a fantastic event where over 70 volunteers worked on 11 properties for three days totaling 700 hours. We created eight acres of defensible space and removed 17,000 cubic feet of slash. That is the equivalent of seven shipping containers of slash! (Fortunately, we chipped most of it, so it didn’t take seven shipping containers to get it to the Jeffco slash yard!)
The Team Rubicon event was also remarkable because it was made possible through significant collaboration across many agencies and organizations and individuals. It showed that it takes a village to get this scale of work done. I’m extremely grateful for all of the people that made it possible for us to get this much work done over a single weekend.
Even with all of that amazing mitigation completed, one of my major lessons learned was that we have A LOT of work to do! As I shared with the Team Rubicon staff, I’ve walked away from most Saws & Slaws event just a little bit disappointed that we weren’t able to complete all the work that we wanted to complete in an event. I think about all the times we try to squeeze in felling just a few more trees or removing just a little more slash at the end of an event. I also think about the MANY times we’re finishing up the chipping after lunch. It ALWAYS feels great to have completed what we have been able to do in our typical four-hour Saws & Slaws events, because I know it makes a difference to the homeowners and neighborhoods. We are able to complete way more than the average homeowner can complete in four hours! It was just hard to walk away when there is more work to be done!
To be fair, it is very likely that we (Saws & Slaws) often overestimate what we think we can get done in an event. Our hearts want to do everything possible for the people and the community that we serve! For me, to witness the robust Team Rubicon resources also not be able to complete everything that they hoped to changed my perspective on that experience that I’ve been having. It demonstrated to me just how much work is needed to make our communities safer. Team Rubicon made the choice early in the project (after they visited the sites) that they were going to focus on the HIZ (home ignition zone) and egress areas for treatment. It wasn’t possible for them to complete any one property, so they focused on those areas to have the most impact for the most properties. As the weekend went on, they even had to make some decisions to stop working on certain properties so they could get to others. We do what we can do, and I truly believe that every little bit counts… AND there is always more to do!
Meanwhile, The Ember Alliance continues to pull together the data to update our CWPP (Community Wildfire Protection Plan). Through this process they are going to help us identify the areas where we can make the greatest impact to improve the safety of our community and the health of our shared forest. The recommendations that they make will help us focus our efforts so that we can be sure that the work that we are getting done is effective when we know that there will always be more to do.
We have our work cut out for us (pardon the pun!), but I know that we can do it as we do have an amazing collaborative community that is dedicated to helping each other out. I’ve witnessed it firsthand over the last twelve years of Saws & Slaws events. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is going to take that collaboration to get as much done as possible so that when a fire impacts our community we are ready for it.