Using GIS to Analyze Slash Site Outcomes

Authors: Jonathan Bruno

Colorado’s Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) has operated several slash drop-off sites since 2003. Initially, CUSP viewed the slash sites as having a singular purpose: to collect slash from private residences within our area. What we have realized over the years is that the slash sites can be so much more.

Every weekend throughout the summer we staff each site with one or two people who greet clients, collect data, and provide them with FAC information. The slash sites are located on county lands, leased to CUSP for free, and require a small fee per load to help offset the staffing and grinding operations. As clients enter the site they are greeted by a CUSP representative who collects their physical address, email, phone numbers and details about the type of forest activities they have undertaken. When we have grant funding we post an announcement with a detailed map, which has proven effective at gaining new clients in our forestry program. In an effort to better understand our clients’ needs and where individuals were coming from, we undertook a more robust monitoring project. This information will be used to assess where activity is great and where activity is lacking, and help CUSP understand how our programs can better meet the needs of our community.

Example of data collected in the study.

Example of data collected in the study.

Highlights of the 2015 Analysis

A time analysis of the slash site data indicates that when one homeowner does fuel mitigation on their property, their neighbors are likely to do the same.

In 2015,

  • There were 709 total slash site patrons who made 1,654 trips to the slash site;
  • Homeowners mitigated 78.54 acres;
  • More than 10,000 mitigation hours were completed by the slash site patrons;
  • Eighty-three percent of homeowners came from Teller County (where the slash site is located);
  • Thirteen percent of homeowners came from Park County; and
  • Fewer than 2 percent of homeowners came from El Paso and Douglas Counties.
The Divide slash site in Divide, Colorado. Credit: CUSP

The Divide slash site in Divide, Colorado. Credit: CUSP

Between the two slash sites, the majority (over 88 percent) of the patrons came from less than 10 miles away. The farthest patron came from 40 miles away. Understanding where patrons are traveling from is essential as CUSP continues to expand upon this program. In 2016 CUSP has identified, sited and begun development of a new slash site that is within 10 miles of more than 15,000 individual properties. I believe we will see strong participation once the site becomes operational.

Ideas for Outreach and Questions for Further Investigation

Below are some research questions and ideas for data analyses that could help us: (1) get a more complete picture of current activities and deficiencies, and (2) find new ways to build participation in fuel mitigation efforts.

  • Analysis of the slash site activity data by year could show trends in fuel mitigation over time and indicate whether there are differences between drier years with wildfires and wetter years without fires.
  • Are the current patrons doing more to mitigate their property each year?
  • Are we getting new homeowners coming each year? If so, how many and why? Can we tell if it is because their neighbor is doing mitigation or is it from outreach?
  • Analysis of usage could help us decide whether to close the slash site in October or November.
  • Identifying subdivisions that are doing a lot of mitigation that do not have funding from a cost-share program and have not contacted us would allow us to contact the most active slash patrons and encourage them do more with grants/cost-share incentives.
  • Geographic comparisons could help us identify communities that are not participating that are in high-risk areas, thereby informing our outreach efforts. We are considering direct mail and also Homeowner Association presentations.
  • Such comparisons could also help us identify areas/subdivisions that are doing a lot of mitigation, which would allow us to create incentives such as awards to encourage them to do more.
  • Knowing which subdivisions that don’t have a CWPP and that are doing a lot of mitigation would enable us to encourage those neighborhoods to complete a CWPP using the treatments already finished, and help them determine their where they should focus their next treatments.

What types of data are you collecting at slash pick-up sites, and how are you using it? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts and ideas related to maximizing return on investment for these types of programs.

One thought on “Using GIS to Analyze Slash Site Outcomes”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Jonathan! We have our first chipping day this Saturday!

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