Wildfire Mitigation

Delta County and Town of Paonia complete Wildfire Mitigation Project on Cedar Hill (P Hill) in Paonia Funded by COSWAP Grant

June 6, 2023

Project Summary

Cedar Hill Fire Mitigation Project Flyer Opens in new windowThe Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) created the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) grant after the devastating 2020 fire season to support wildfire fuel reduction projects across the state. Delta County was awarded mitigation funds to reduce wildfire risk in Delta County.  Through Coordination with the Town of Paonia, funding is being used to complete a wildfire fuels reduction project on the high-fire danger parcel of Town property known as Cedar Hill (P-Hill) directly south of Town. 

The Town and County have partnered with the Western Slope Conservation Corps (WCCC) to complete the project this June and October. The primary goal is to thin high density juniper trees to create a shaded fuel break to improve the defensibility of the communications tower and reduce the risk of wildfire spread and intensity to the Town and neighboring parcels. The project will also improve the health and diversity of the forest stand and benefit wildlife by reducing density and expanding openings for the regeneration of under-story plants. The project is supported by the Colorado State Forest Service and fuels treatments were specifically designed by a forester with the State Forest Service to maximize wildlife habitat and forest health.  

Project Timeline

June 5th - 30th: WCCC will begin mitigation efforts on the priority 1 area (5.7 acres) and then will start work on priority 2 area (13.7 acres) once priority 1 is complete.  

October 2023: WCCC returns to Cedar Hill to finish fuel mitigation work on the priority 2 area. 

Winter/Spring 2024: Two to four weeks of final mitigation work to wrap up the project

About the Western Colorado Conservation Corps

The Western Colorado Conservation Corps (WCCC) is a program of Mesa County partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides youth and young adults with an environmentally focused educational and employment experience. The WCCC works closely with government agencies and other nonprofits to provide opportunities for young people in western Colorado. Corps members have the opportunity to learn life skills and provide service to their community, as well as take on civic and environmental responsibilities designed to enrich their lives and their surroundings. The WCCC's purpose is to serve youth in western Colorado through service by improving their community and gaining valuable life experience for their success in the future.  

WCCC's program design benefits our members by:

  • Connecting young adults with project partners and their communities through hands-on learning experience and projects that benefit public lands
  • Help young adults pursue education, trainings and certifications that advance their career opportunities
  • Providing an environment where everyone has equitable access to nature, is equipped to succeed in career and life and is empowered to make a difference in conserving natural resources. 

West Region Wildfire Council

The West Region Wildfire Council (WRWC) offers assistance and grants to homeowners for fuels reduction projects that decrease the threats to their residences.  The Council provides grants at a 75/25 match.  The council will pay for 75% of the project if the homeowner can pay the remaining 25%.  The West Region Wildfire Council has provided this service to hundreds of homeowners across the West Region of Colorado including in Delta County.  in 2016 the West Region Wildfire Council completed an assessment of all residences within the Wildland/Urban Interface and rated their fire risk.  Here is that link to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan and your homes individual assessment.  

The West Region Wildfire Council (WRWC) promotes wildfire preparedness, prevention and mitigation education throughout Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel Counties.  The WRWC's mission is to mitigate loss due to wildfire in wildland urban interface communities while fostering interagency partnerships to help prepare counties, fire protection districts, communities and agencies to plan for and mitigate potential threats from wildfire.

WRWC members include private citizens, local, county, state, and federal agencies with an interest in, and a commitment to addressing wildfire risk across the region.  The WRWC provides communities with education about wildfire risk, assists with the development of wildfire planning initiatives and encourages homeowner risk reduction actions through implementing strategic fuels reduction projects and the creation of defensible space.

There are several funding assistance programs available to private landowners who are interested in implementing defensible space or completing fuels reduction projects.  The WRWC actively collaborates with Delta County in their effort to reduce wildfire risk to residents by carrying out FireWise activities.  For more information, visit the WRWC website or contact them at 970-615-7300.

Below are links to a number of websites with excellent information on fire-resistant building materials, landscaping techniques, evacuation procedures.

Creating Wildfire Defensible Zones

Two factors have emerged as the primary determinants of a home’s ability to survive wildfire. These are the home’s roofing material and the quality of the “defensible space” surrounding it.

Roofing Materials

Use fire-resistive materials (Class C or better rating), not wood or shake shingles, to roof homes in or near forests and grasslands. When your roof needs significant repairs or replacement, do so with a fire-resistant roofing material.

Defensible Space

Defensible space is an area around a structure where fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire towards the structure.  It also reduces the chance of a structure fire moving from the building to the surrounding forest. Defensible space provides room for firefighters to do their jobs.  Your house is more likely to withstand a wildfire if grasses, brush, trees and other common forest fuels are managed to reduce a fire’s intensity.

Please contact the West Region Wildfire Council or the Delta County Office of Emergency Management (970-874-2004) for more information and resources that can assist you with projects, concerns or resources available for wildfire protection. 

Useful Links