Wildfire Mitigation Services - Boulder
Boulder Canyon, Front Range, Mountain home - Wildfire Mitigation - Prevention services - Creating Wildfire-Defensible Space - the three zone method
Patriot Tree Company - 720-295-8733
Front Range Wildfire Mitigation Services
If you live in a mountain area along the Front Range, you live in a forest that was meant to burn. Historically, fire has been the primary disturbance process to shape the structure and composition of our forests. Without frequent low-intensity surface fires, forests become overly dense and fuels accumulate. Over 100 years of fire suppression in the Front Range, as well as recent drought and pine beetle outbreaks, has led to prime conditions for destructive high intensity fires. Combine this with more and more people living in these forest areas, and there arises a need to mitigate wildfire risks to ensure that people can live in and enjoy these areas safely. That’s where we come in. With the guidance of our forestry experts and some of the best equipment in the industry, we can essentially perform many of the functions in the landscape that fire would have performed on your forest lot, only in a much less destructive way. By thinning trees and reducing fuels, we can help make your property healthier and safer by making it more resistant to high intensity fire. We can also help you make your property as safe and accessible as possible for firefighters in the case of a fire, a process called creating wildfire-defensible space. No matter what size your project is, from chipping brush piles to designing and implementing a complete wildfire mitigation plan for your property, we at Patriot Tree Company are here to help.
Wildfire Mitigation Plans
Wildfire can be an extremely destructive and dangerous force in the landscape, but with proper planning and implementation, we can help you protect your home. Whether you are building a new house or looking to make your existing mountain home as safe as possible, we can custom design a plan for your property to make it safe, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing. By properly positioning structures on the property, building with ignition resistant construction materials, creating defensible space, providing adequate access and water for firefighters, and performing regular maintenance, you can give firefighters and yourself the best opportunity to defend your property during a wildfire event. Give us a call and have us custom tailor a plan that fits your properties specific needs.
Creating Wildfire-Defensible Space
Two key factors have been identified as determinants of a properties ability to withstand a wildfire: the roofing material of the house and the quality of defensible space around the house.
Here at Patriot Tree Company, we use standards for creating defensible space put forward by Colorado State University and the Colorado State Forest Service to make the areas around your home safe, beautiful, and healthy. What exactly is defensible space? Defensible space is an area around a structure where vegetation and fuels are treated (removed) to reduce the spread of wildfire towards the structure. By properly creating defensible space around your home, you also give firefighters room to properly do their jobs. Without adequate space to work, firefighters may pass your home during a fire event in order to make a stand at a property where their safety and chances of success are greater.
How do we do it?
We start with the areas closest to your home and work outwards, using the 3 zone concept:
- Zone 1 is the area closest to the house and is usually the area of the most modification and treatment. It extends 15 feet around structure, and is an area where no trees should exist (if a tree is kept in this zone, we treat it like part of the structure and extend defensible space accordingly). Low growing shrubs can be kept in this zone with frequent pruning and maintenance, but never under windows or vents. Decorative rocks create pleasing, easily maintained, and non-flammable ground cover for this zone.
- Zone 2 is a transitional zone between zones 1 and 3. It is an area of fuel reduction designed to reduce fire intensity as it approaches the structure, and should extend at least 75 to 125 feet from the structure. There are two main objectives, removing ground and ladder fuels as well as thinning tree density for proper spacing. During our fuel reduction treatments, we chip all slash and brush over 1” in diameter as well as removing all trees and shrubs considered ladder fuels (fuels that can move surface fires into tree crowns). Chips are broadcast into zone 3 rather than hauled so that nutrients from them can be released and benefit the remaining forest on your property. During thinning treatments, trees are selected as “save trees” based on health, size, and spacing from other “save trees”. Trees not saved in this zone are removed and chipped. “Save trees” are then pruned to remove all branches to a height of 10 feet. Any grasses growing in this zone are mowed to less than 6” in height.
- Zone 3 is an area of forest management, and includes all areas on property not included in zones 1 and 2. Depending on landowner objectives, this zone can be managed to maintain/improve tree health, provide physical barriers to wind and noise, support firewood production, enhance ecosystem traits that favor wildlife, and provide recreation opportunities. Fuel reduction can be performed as well as forest thinning if fuel loads are high and the forest is overly dense.
Once your wildfire-defensible space has been established, routine maintenance will be required to ensure trees and shrubs are properly thinned and pruned and that ground fuels are disposed of properly. Roofs and gutters should be cleared of debris regularly, and grasses mowed to a low height.
In some situations, property lines do not allow for creating a complete defensible space. We encourage neighbors to communicate with each other to allow for the best plans to be implemented, and we will always offer a discount on services when performing work at multiple properties in a neighborhood.