The Board of County Commissioners, at its Sept. 11 hearing, proclaimed October 2012 as Wildfire Awareness Month.
More than 70 percent of Jefferson County is above 6,400 foot elevation, heavily forested and at high risk for wildfires. The forests are home to our watersheds, water infrastructure, valuable natural resources, wildlife, historical and cultural resources, and recreational opportunities.
Past wildfires have had a dramatic effect on Jefferson County, including the 1996 Buffalo Creek Fire that burned 10,000 acres and destroyed 18 homes; the 2002 Hayman Fire that burned 42,000 acres in Jefferson County; the 2011 Indian Gulch fire that burned 1,500 acres; and the Lower North Fork Fire that killed three people and destroyed 23 homes and 2,000 acres of private property last March.
The purpose of Wildfire Awareness Month is to educate the public and promote action to reduce the frequency and severity of future wildfires in Jefferson County.
All residents are encouraged to understand their role in preventing and preparing for future wildfires. Specifically, residents who live in the wildland urban interface should take the following measures to help protect their homes and communities:
• Create and maintain a defensible space around their home and outbuildings.
• Use ignition-resistant building materials.
• Have an evacuation plan coordinated with family and neighbors.
• Review insurance policies to make sure homes are fully insured.
• Support the creation of community fuelbreaks and forest restoration.
• Become aware of the role healthy forests play in reducing the negative impact of wildfire.
• Protect water resources, recreation opportunities and air quality.
Wildfire Awareness Month this October is not only being recognized in Jefferson County. Boulder, Clear Creek, Douglas, El Paso and Larimer counties, are joining Jeffco to promote wildfire awareness with several events, including the 2012 Forest Summit on Oct. 12.