We found out early on, that wildfire is a very real threat that comes with living in the mountains. Five weeks after moving into our home, the most destructive wildfire to date in Colorado, Four Mile Canyon, came within 4 miles of where we were living. Shortly after, we had a small fire erupt within a mile of our home, and the police came to our door and asked us to evacuate immediately. Fortunately, we and our home came through those incidents safely, but it really made us realize how real the threat is and how important wildfire mitigation is. The last three years, Colorado has had history-making fires in each successive year that have set records for property destruction. Four Mile Canyon Fire in Boulder County destroyed 169 homes in 2010, then High Park Fire and Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012, and last summer the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs destroyed over 500 homes. The risk of wildfire is real and something every mountain resident lives with from late spring to early fall.
Because of this, many communities and property owners have become very proactive with wildfire mitigation in their communities. Sometimes this is also forced upon them by insurance companies, and some insurance companies are not only raising rates, but refusing to insure properties that have not done at least some fire mitigation.
Bryon and I have been working on our property since we bought our home four years ago, and this year put in an application that was accepted by Wildfire Partners, an organization that assists homeowners by providing assessments and some reimbursement for proper mitigation. In tandem with this, an organization called Saws and Slaws is a group of people from the mountain communities that come together for a day to work on a property. Saws and Slaws started in Coal Creek Canyon, but is now very active in Nederland. During Saws and Slaws events, 20-40 come together for the day, including sawyers (chain-saw people) and swampers (people hauling trees), to cut and haul trees and slash for the property owners. The Slaws part is that the homeowner hosts a pot-luck BBQ for all the people helping out. It’s very similar to an Amish barn-raising, where a lot of work can done in a short period of time, and it also promotes community friendships and assistance.
We were privileged to host Saws and Slaws at our property — it was amazing to have this group of people descend on your property, offering their hard labor and good will to you for this purpose, and to see how much can get done through their efforts. Some pictures are in the gallery, and the attached video clip shows a little of what goes on.