We have been doing mitigation work around homes and on common property since the 90s. Our Community Wildfire Protection Plan was approved in 2011 and we continue to update it annually. We have 940 of which 840 are shared or common property. We invest about 3,500 volunteer hours each year doing wildfire mitigation work and watershed preservation for our creek and lake.
In addition to individuals working on their home ignition zones 1 and 2, we have teams such as the Chainsaw Gang, that work on defined areas and several community work days where up to 80 volunteers show up for a morning followed by the BBQ and potluck. Our outstanding mitigation work was recognized during the 416 Fire in June of 2018 and it enabled firefighters to use our development as the southern border of the fire, keeping it out of Durango.
Central Ranch Risk Reduction
Our development is 8 miles northwest of Durango, Colorado. Last year before the 416 Fire we had marked approximately 500 trees for removal in our densest stand on steep terrain. We have be trying to find a logger to help with removal of the larger trees, as our volunteers can remove those less than 15" in diameter. We do not have a mill nearby but have had two look at our trees and both are interested. We are looking for funding to truck the logs the more than 300+ miles over passes to the mill with a net-zero cost. These mature trees are along our only maintained access road and near several homes. We also will remove hazardous trees and trim up those remaining to approximately 10 feet. The slash will be chipped in place or hauled to our sort yard and burned in our air curtain burner. Major branches will be cut into manageable lengths and placed along our roads for residents and firefighters to gather as firewood.
We had 32 acres burned during the 416 Fire with different levels of severity. We have created water crossings to that the greatly increased water flow from the San Juan Forest above us can reach our meadows without destroying roads and isolating residents. We did contour felling last year, staked out 3000 feet of straw waddles, put down 300 hundred of pounds of specialized grass seed mixes, and covered the seed with about 600 bales of weed-free straw. We need to reseed some of the steeper areas after the snow melt this winter and new areas after we remove the log, rock, and mud debris. We continue to work on the roads to ensure we are following historical drainage patterns and protecting our property and that of those approximately 800 feet below us in the Animas Valley. We are open to suggestions as we work to recover as quickly as possible and stop the excessive erosion.