The First Ever Fire Mitigation Project in Glade Park

GLADE PARK, Colo.-With hot and drier weather approaching, Mesa County officials are attempting to fight fires before they even start.

The Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado State Forest Service and home owners in Glade Park are gathering together to thin out woodland areas next to private roads.

This is a first-of-its-kind project for Mesa County.

Officials say that by thinning the Pinyon Juniper woodland area next to the roadway by 30 to 70%, it will reduce the severity of wildfires and give homeowners more time to evacuate.

Glade Park is no stranger to wildfires.

"Every year we get more than a dozen up here. There's quite a history of big fires here on Glade Park," says Fire Mitigation Specialist Doug Paul.

Which is why trees are coming down.

"If we space the trees just right, we can have the fire drop to the ground where it's a lot easier and much safer for fire fighters to manage the fire," adds Paul.

Officials call this area of Glade Park a wild land urban interface.

"This is where the forest is interspersed with homes and other development," says Andy Martsolf, the Mesa County Emergency Manager.

So the safety for those living here has become priority.

"It's very important from the standpoint of safety for homeowners to be able to get out in the event of a fire and for fire fighters to be able to access the area," says Martsolf.

"With the number of folks we have living here and for public safety purposes we, really, just can't let every fire burn," adds Paul.

For those who believe that this is disrupting the natural cycle of the forest, officials say the woodlands will actually benefit from their efforts.

"Forests are really resilient. The grasses and plants will come up, grasses are already starting to come up," says Paul.

"It's good for the wildlife habitat, it's good for forest health and it's good for home owner safety," adds Martsolf.

The Mesa County Wildlife Protection Plan started in 2012 and involves 11 homeowners and 50 acres of property.

The BLM donated $50,000 through the Community Assistance Grant for the project, which only costs $15,000.

So, officials say that the extra money will be spent on other fire mitigation projects in Mesa County.

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