COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Colorado Springs Fire Department and City Parks’ and Forestry staff are teaming up with community volunteers on a fire mitigation project at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site this Saturday.
Crews are asking volunteers to help drag and pile trees that Colorado Springs fire crews started cutting down Thursday. Once all the dead and cleared brush is gathered, CSFD will chip it. They ask you to wear pants, close-toed shoes and protective eyewear for safety. The city will provide gloves for volunteers. Sign up here.
Crews are chopping low-hanging branches, dead or dying trees, and thinning out part of the forest. By clearing out the lower brush and branches, in the event of a fire, flames stay closer to the ground instead of climbing up to the tree crowns.
“That is more of a fire hazard and allows that fire to come up from the ground into the canopy. And that’s what we’re trying to mitigate the risk of becoming an active crown fire. Because when we have an active crown fire that’s when it becomes an issue and we’re throwing embers on our structures. And it is hard for firefighters, in general, to fight,” said Cory Ashby, Colorado Springs Fire Department wildfire program coordinator.
This prevention work makes it easier for crews to manage a fire, manage less risk of burning nearby homes, structures and even animals.
“This work is important because of the adjacent hiking trails, historic buildings on the property, plus the animals that reside nearby on the ranch and in the wild. In the event of a wildfire, we want to ensure that the fire stays low to the ground and is easily manageable without harming life or structures,” said Ashby. “We’re removing a lot of dead and dying vegetation to help return the forest to what it would have been naturally to help us and the communities at risk.”
It’s projects like this one that crews say saved homes and lives during the Bear Creek Fire last November, which threatened homes in the Skyway neighborhood as flames reached property lines.
“We work with over 140 communities across Colorado Springs and so that education piece of teaching people what the landscape should look like and how to protect your home and our infrastructure and open spaces and parks is a big part of what we do,” said Ashby. “We also run our chipping program throughout the city of Colorado Springs to help mitigate the risk of people’s individual homes.”
CSFD works with the City Parks Department and Forestry regularly on strategic fire mitigation projects, like this one at Rock Ledge Ranch. The project is also an opportunity to learn fire prevention tips for your home.