The Blue Mountain Forest Stewardship Initiative (FSI) was founded by a small group of concerned residents in 2013, as a Colorado Nonprofit Corporation with 501(c)3 IRS status, to implement the recommendations of the fire department’s 2008 Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and to address forest health issues in the heavily forested, 600-acre Blue Mountain Estates subdivision of 130 homes and surrounding privately owned land. The nonprofit organization is run by resident volunteers serving on an unpaid board of directors. In June of 2013, Saws and Slaws helped run the first community work event. Money was raised from residents and the fledgling organization soon received the first of three matching fund grants from the Colorado Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant program to perform the extensive work needed to implement CWPP recommendations for the community. Within five years most of the recommendations in the 2008 CWPP were implemented. The Blue Mountain FSI received recognition at the 2018 Wildland Urban Interface Conference and was awarded the national Wildfire Mitigation Award. Blue Mountain has been designated as a Firewise USA Community since 2018.
In its first 10 years of operation, the Blue Mountain FSI has:
- Removed a total of 20,000 cubic yards of slash. (Stacked to cover an entire NBA basketball court, it would be 115 feet tall!)
- Generated nearly 100 cords of firewood for residents and charity
- Completed logging projects to install two shaded fuelbreaks on 18 acres
- One near homes on steep and heavily forested hillsides
- Both generating 8,000 board feet of saw logs
- Mitigated over 40 acres total
- Improved defensible space around the Blue Mountain Water District’s treatment plant and pump stations
- Completed extensive fuel thinning along community egress roads
- Worked with Jefferson County Open Space to perform fuels mitigation on adjacent JCOS lands
- Held 26 community mitigation events, serving 75 properties in the neighborhood
- Trained 75% of residents in Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) fire mitigation practices
- Performed 80 HIZ assessments for residents
- Held 14 community fire mitigation educational workshops
- Logged 10,170 hours worked by over 50 resident volunteers
The Blue Mountain FSI remains committed to wildfire mitigation, forest health and land stewardship, sponsoring annual events including:
Annual Kickoff Event
The FSI board of directors treat residents to a brunch or lunch to express appreciation of the community’s ongoing support. Fundraising goals are announced to support projects planned for the season, a brief program on a topic of concern (fire mitigation, forest health, noxious weeds, etc.), and raffle of prizes donated by generous sponsors wraps up the event.
Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) Training
Private home assessments are offered April-October. Residents learn how to give their home a fighting chance to survive a wildfire by “hardening” their structures against ember storms and completing defensible space fire mitigation.
Community Slash Removal Events
Twice a year, community work events are held to help neighbors load and haul slash to the Jeffco Slash Collection site or to be chipped and hauled. FSI provides a hearty lunch for volunteers.
Annual Forest Health Review
Each spring, residents are asked to report unhealthy or newly dead trees, schedule a FSI site visit to diagnose the problem (insect/disease/drought) and get treatment suggestions.
What the updated CWPP will bring:
In the new era of mega wildfires, fire science has evolved to respond to new threats faced by communities in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). The Blue Mountain FSI is gearing up to implement new risk reduction recommendations as outlined in the updated Community Wildfire Protection Plan, to be issued by the CCCFPD in early 2024. As a member of the CCCFPD Community Outreach Team, Blue Mountain FSI founder/executive director Cork Rech is committed to sharing hard-earned knowledge with other CCC residents forming fire mitigation groups in their communities. Contact the Community Outreach Team website at www.coalcreekcwpp.org or email us at cwppforCCC@gmail.com.