The West Region Wildfire Council (WRWC) promotes wildfire preparedness, prevention and Mitigation Education across Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel Counties in west central Colorado.
As a collaborative regional focal point for wildfire related information, the West Region Wildfire Council:
EDUCATES homeowners about wildfire risk and promotes activities that help communities and homeowners increase fire adaptedness.
PROMOTES wildfire risk reduction through community preparedness and planning.
PROVIDES funding to assist landowners with hazardous fuels reduction projects and defensible space.
SUPPORTS cooperator efforts to collaboratively achieve common wildfire related objectives.
Social Science Research: Wildfire Risk Perception
The WRWC is part of an interdisciplinary social science research team. Collectively this partnership, called WiRē (Wildfire Research), initiated an examination of wildfire risk, homeowner perception of risk, and how certain behaviors or experiences influence homeowners to participate in wildfire mitigation activities. WiRe members consist of researchers from the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) in Fort Collins, Colorado and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science as well as BLM Colorado Southwest District Fire Management and a partner practitioner group, Firewise of Southwest Colorado.
One of the group’s main focuses is analyzing data collected from surveys that were sent to residents in communities that are at risk to wildfire within the West Region area. WiRē uses data collected in each community during a parcel level wildfire risk assessment and compares assessed risk to homeowner survey answers. By asking survey participants the same questions used to assess homes in the field, the information obtained provides a comparative data set between how homeowners rate their own wildfire risk and how their risk was actually assessed by a wildfire professional.
How do research findings help the WRWC?
Provides insight into how homeowners in our region view their risk to wildfire and what motivates them to take risk reduction actions.
Improves program efficacy by providing information about how WRWC programs can adapt to better serve our residents.
WiRē is working on several exciting projects for 2016 including more community comparisons and implementing a ‘nudge’ experiment into the WRWC programs in order to better understand what motivates homeowners to take action to reduce their wildfire risk. The team is also wokring on several 'infographics' which provide a great way to visually display information from the research.
More information about the research team can be found on the WiRē blog: http://wildfireresearch.wordpress.com/
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Ouray County Land Use Plan: Wildfire Code Revision
In late 2015, the Ouray County Planning Commission approached the West Region Wildfire Council, Colorado State Forest Service and other partners about making recommendations to the Planning Commission concerning the revision of Section 24 of the Ouray County Land Use Code. Section 24 (Wildfire Mitigation Regulations) was last amended in 2006. Section 24 references and relies on the County's Fire Safety Rating System that was last amended in 1997.
WRWC and partners held a work session that identified key areas of focus. Those areas are:
1. New Construction,
2. Existing Construction,
3. Vacant land,
4. Planned Unit Developments
In early March, WRWC presented recommendations to the Planning Commission for New Construction in Ouray County. WRWC updated and modified the County's old wildfire vulnerability rating system that, if implemented, will require firewise design and building standards for all new construction in Ouray County. Recommendations were broken out into two main categories 1). Required Elements and 2). Scored Elements
1). Required Elements Include:
Class A roofing;
Ignition resistant siding;
Ember resistant vent screening;
Approved chimney spark arresters;
Building perimeter 'hardened zone';
Non combustible exterior doors and,
Driveway standards that meet current County code
2). Scored Elements Include:
Adequate defensible space;
Distance to a high wildfire risk topographic feature;
Forest and fuel density;
Decking and fencing;
Eaves, overhangs and structural projections;
Driveway clearance (vertical and horizontal) and,
*Scored elements are prioritized and weighted.
A maximum number of points will be allowed for individual dwelling units at the time of the issuance of a building permit as well as at the time of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
The collaborative group plans to address existing construction elements next...we'd love to hear input on how other communities are approaching this subject!
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Fire Adapted Colorado
Fire Adapted Colorado or (FACO) is a newly formed statewide non-profit organization. The group’s founding mission is to act as a collective voice and representative organization for Colorado that provides educational and networking opportunities for communities, groups and individual stakeholders focused on reducing the negative impacts of wildfires in the state.
The West Region Wildfire Council is a founding participant and the WRWC Director is the elected Treasurer of Fire Adapted Colorado.
Fire Adapted Colorado was formed to provide a statewide platform for information sharing and forward thinking discussion as related to wildfire issues. FACO acts as a connecting force that works with a collective voice, aimed at creating safer and more resilient communities living with the threat of wildfire.
With a seven member board of Directors who each represent wildfire-centric collaboratives and organizations from around the state, as well as five agency liaisons, and a growing membership the group plans to:
Function as a representative body in Colorado to provide coordinated opportunities for all stakeholders concerned with reducing the negative impacts of wildfires;
Secure funding and provide coordination (via committees) for an annual statewide conference focused on all aspects of reducing the negative impacts of wildfires;
Leverage resources and relationships to provide fire adapted messaging, educational tools and outreach mechanisms to interest groups and partners;
Assist new and existing organizations by increasing their ability to obtain funding to promote capacity building and;
Maintain a statewide directory of agencies and entities involved in wildfire related issues.
Fire Adapted Colorado is held a work session in February 2016 to further identify actions and tasks that will help Colorado create safer and more resilient communities as we work toward fire adpatedness. We have a robust work plan for the upcoming months and are all excited about the momentum that FACO already has in the state. Stay tuned for more FACO information!