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Preventing Forest Fires in Our Summer Home Group
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3/13/2020 at 12:24:47 AM GMT
Posts: 2
Preventing Forest Fires in Our Summer Home Group

I recently received the following comment/questions from a cabin owner via our Colorado outreach network – “My concern at this time is taking measures this summer to prevent forest fires in our summer home group. We need the help of the forest service not only in an overall plan for our 16 cabins, but also with removing trees and undergrowth. What are the responsibilities of our forest service employees to do this? What has been done in other areas by the forest service? I think our office feels it is understaffed to be able to help. We need to start a dialogue and have a stronger relationship.” Any advice cabin community?"


3/13/2020 at 7:16:16 AM GMT
Posts: 11
The most important action cabin owners can take to protect their cabin is to maintain their lot and structures in accordance with their Operating Plan and which should include vegetation management and fire protection. Hazard tree removal and vegetation management on lot and authorized by the Forest Service are the permittees responsibility.

Putting together a plan for your cabin group is a great idea!

Tracts often take the lead in preparing an overall plan with support from the Forest Service. There are many resources out there to help a tract pull together a fire safety plan. One of the most recognized is Firewise USA, which provides information and training on how to become a fire-adapted community.

Checking with local fire and emergency services or a community-based safety organization in your area is an excellent way to source and, perhaps join, efforts underway. County Fire Safe Councils and Resource Conservation Districts are also great resources. These groups work with wildland urban interface (WUI) communities assisting and while typically focused on privately held land, most plans can be modified to accommodate the unique land management structure of a recreation residence tract.

The Forest Service is responsible for managing the forest surrounding your cabins. Vegetation management and fuel reduction plans are typically large multi-year projects. Visit the Land & Resources Management page of your local FS website. Under Current Projects, you will find information on active vegetation management and fuel reduction projects. Scan the Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) report, which describes projects and provides project contacts. If your tract is within or adjacent to an existing project, reach out to get more information – you may find an opportunity to leverage work by participating in the planning process.

Lastly, we encourage organizing your tract, formally or informally. Setting up a basic association structure is not difficult and may be required when working with some of the organizations mentioned. Another benefit is that having a local association can make it easier for the local Forest Service folks to support your efforts and for any group to pursue grants or other funding.

Last edited Saturday, March 14, 2020
3/17/2020 at 2:12:53 AM GMT
Posts: 5
Preventing Forest Fires in Our Summer Home Group

I agree that the most important action a cabin owners can take is to maintain their lots and cabins in accordance with their operating plan. At our tract a few years ago, we looked into becoming a “Firewise Community”. Several of our nearby towns had done so and the local rural fire protection district was willing to coordinate the process even though most of our cabins are outside of the district boundaries. That idea fell through due to funding issues the district was having but we will be looking at it again in the near future, possibly through the state fire marshal’s office. You can see info on the Firewise program here .

After the Firewise process fell through, we brought our concerns to the Forest Service at our annual association meeting in 2017. It took a little time, but last year they proposed a plan to help create some defensible spaces in our tract. It went through the SOPA process mentioned in the above post and the decision notice was published this January. Work is expected to begin this summer. I've attached a copy of the decision memo as it gives some details of why they are doing it and what they have in mind. The important step in working with the Forest Service is to establish a good working relationship with your district ranger and special uses coordinator. Our association has always made an effort to do just that.

Rick Dwyer

Stahlman Summer Home Association

Located in the Detroit Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, Oregon




3/24/2020 at 5:36:55 PM GMT
Posts: 2
Thank you for your quick response and the resource recommendations for our Colorado forests, Desiree. I appreciate the information and will pass it along to our Colorado tracts.