August 2019 WAP E-News

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WAP E-News: August 2019

In This Issue
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Upcoming Events and Important Dates

Friday - Saturday, August 16 - 17: 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Vallecito Slash Depot
CR 501, Vallecito

Wednesday, September 4: 1:30 - 3:30 PM
Dolores Watershed Resilient Forest (DWRF) Collaborative Meeting
Dolores Water Conservancy District, 60 Cactus Street, Cortez, CO 81321

Monday, September 9: 9:00 - 11:00 AM
Coffee Break
Cattle Drive Coffee, 38651 US 160, Mancos, CO 81328

Tuesday, September 17th: 4:30 - 7:00 PM
September Fire Council Meeting
San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Ct., Durango, CO 81301

Community Evacuation Preparedness

North Mancos Property Owners Association’s Virtual Evacuation Drill

“You have 30 minutes to evacuate,” read the text message from WAP Ambassador Ruth Ann Thompson.

The message wasn’t a surprise, but it still sent a bolt of adrenaline through me. My wife, Diane, and I set a timer for 30 minutes and prepared to leave most of our belongings behind.

The text message was part of our road association’s planned virtual evacuation drill. We moved quickly.

First, we grabbed our bulleted list of evac tasks from the fridge. Next, the list of contacts to leave on the kitchen counter. Now move, the clock is ticking.

Our camping gear, pet supplies, and go-bags are always packed and ready to go. Our work computers (a huge hassle not to have them) were next. We were running out of time.

Diane started pulling artwork from the walls. “No!” I say. “We don’t have time, they take up space, and we can live without them.” We closed windows, the valve on the propane tank, and attached the hose to the sprinkler.

Then, we realized that all of our important legal documents were in file cabinets and hadn’t been scanned, uploaded to the cloud, or ready to transport. We left them behind.

Lastly, we loaded our pets Abbey and Deso and pulled out of the driveway.

Eighteen minutes. Faster than we expected but if the evacuation were real those saved minutes could make an enormous difference in our future.

That evening, conversation at the association’s potluck dinner turned to the drill. Ruth Ann mentioned that she and her husband had forgotten food for their dog, Katie. Others said that “the experience was educational and well worth the exercise” and suggested that “it would be beneficial if each household member had their own tasks so tasks aren't duplicated or missed.” One of Diane’s tasks is to choose the personal possessions she can’t live without.

How about you? If a wildfire threatened your home, what couldn’t you live without?

—Dan Miller with contributions by WAP Ambassadors Diane Bush and Ruth Ann Thompson

Defensible Space Training Workshop

The WAP Archuleta County Coordinator, Bill Trimarco, hosted a special Ambassador training at the home of Chuck and Jo Jo Allen on the morning of July 23rd.  Nine Ambassadors met with Bill and Luke Dittrich, CSFS Forester, and did an in depth assessment of the Allen home and property.  We studied the elements necessary for fire and the factors that influence wildfire behavior. Ambassadors had the chance to go through the process of finding threats to the structures on the property. From the roof down to the crawl spaces, we looked for places where embers could enter or gain a foothold. We searched for combustibles on and under decks and anything that could allow fire to touch the home.

We then worked our way outward through each of the Defensible Space zones looking for paths of combustibles leading to the structures.  Ladder fuels, canopy breaks, slope and many other factors were inspected. After some of Jo Jo’s delicious cookies, trees were marked and a Scope of Work drawn up for the Allen property.

The workshop received a lot of positive feedback, and we look forward to doing more Ambassador training in the field.

The Prescription: Goats

Goats have long been considered a valuable tool in building defensible space around structures. Some species can eat up to 15 hours per day, and the vegetation the goats do not consume is pushed down and condensed by their constant wandering. If cheat grass covers a steep hillside, where getting machinery or a ground crew would be challenging, goats are often the best solution. They also eat shrubs, small trees, and weeds.

Some fire protection districts have received grants for renting goats and others have turned to fundraising. It is also increasingly common for private landowners to rent goats for hazardous fuel reduction or weed control. In many parts of the west, towns located in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) are often choked with combustible vegetation. With a string of powerful wildfire seasons, residents are ready to do the work to make their communities safer.   

Utilizing goats for mitigation efforts is not without its challenges, however. The goats require constant supervision and protection and can be expensive to transport. Many communities that have rented goats say they're great for clearing spaces enough for a hand crew to come in and complete the job, suggesting it's not a solution for every property. 

Goats have been used to eradicate weeds organically in the Durango area for many years but are expected to become even more popular after the 2018 fire season saw wildfires at the city's doorstep. 

Let us know if you have rented goats locally for weed control or fire mitigation!
Photo by Peter Lloyd on Unsplash
Articles of Interest


Why This Community is Fighting Wildfires by Setting Fire to Itself

The Fire-Resistant Home is Coming to California

Burn. Build. Repeat.

See the journey to a new career at a wildland fire academy

Before the Fire: Protecting Vulnerable Communities From Wildfire

Old Flames: The Tangled History of Forest Fires, Wildlife, and People

Did you know that you can contribute to WAP while shopping?! Register us as your charitable organization and Amazon Smile will donate a portion of their proceeds to us!

Be sure to log in via smileamazon.com each time you shop. Click the link below to get started. The best part is is that it is still Amazon, and Prime members still receive their benefits!


 

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