Stratton Fire Mitigation Work

CS Fire Dept will have contractors working on fuels mitigation (vegetation removal) in Stratton OS, starting mid July 2024 and continuing through summer 2025. MedWheel joined the Fire Dept., Parks staff, Friends of Stratton and other stakeholders including Palmer Land Conservancy, Sierra Club, along with current and previous city council members, to get a preview of the work. A public meeting has been scheduled to help our community understand the need for, and outcomes of this work.

What will the mitigation work look like? It will be similar to previous vegetation removal that we have seen in Stratton and around the city. Most larger trees will mostly be kept while smaller and dead standing fuels will be removed, along with the buildup of scrub oak and other bushes in the undergrowth.

The fire dept has confirmed that a buffer of 10 feet on either side of the trails will be left intact, to provide shade and to reduce the visual impact of the work for trail users. But be forewarned: like most fire mitigation, it will look startling especially for the first few months after the work is complete.

What we have seen in every fire mitigation case is that after a year the space looks ‘natural’ again, although with less congested undergrowth. It’s worth considering what a ‘natural’ look is. Most people know that for over 100 years, human intervention in our forests have resulted in fewer, small burns that maintain the health and rejuvenation of the forest. As a society we have been preventing smaller, ‘healthy’ fires for so long that now there is a build up of vegetation that impacts the health of the understory and forest overall. This makes our forests susceptible to disease and pests, as well as a dangerous buildup of unburned fuels. If a fire were to start now, it would be more damaging, uncontrolled, and would have much longer lasting impacts, than if we had allowed smaller healthy fires to burn. We have seen the positive impacts of fuels mitigation directly, in Cedar Heights during the Waldo fire, and in Bear Creek a couple of years ago when a mitigated section burned and was easily controlled before houses were impacted.

Fuels mitigation is a massive priority for the US Forest Service also, and has been the focus of vegetation reduction and controlled burns throughout the Pike Ranger District. Thanks to a dedicated funding source from a TABOR retention, the city of Colorado Springs now also has resources to address the unsafe condition through mechanical reduction of built-up fuels. This work is an example of your tax dollars at work.

In Stratton the goal is to restore healthy conditions while minimizing the impact on trails and trail experiences. This is your chance to learn more about the prescription for the mitigation and provide your feedback about it. MedWheel and other partners are working with the department to consider and reduce the impact to trail users during and after the work.

We support CSFD in this work that will, in the long run, protect the trail experiences that we love in our community.

        

The Colorado Springs Fire Department Wildfire Mitigation Section alongside City Parks and City Forestry will be hosting a public meeting to discuss the Stratton Open Space fuels mitigation project.

Where: International Center, 21 Lake Cir, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

When: Wednesday, June 26, 2024, from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

This meeting will discuss the background, timeline, and specifications for the Stratton Open Space fuels mitigation project. Supporting documents will be provided to attendees the night of the meeting. For those unable to attend or for any questions or concerns, please contact Cory Ashby with the Wildfire Mitigation office at 719-385-7281 or Cory.Ashby@coloradosprings.gov.