Spanish Peaks Alliance For Wildfire Protection
In 2013 the East Peak Fire burned a total of 13,572 acres (54.92 square kilometers) and 9 structures and 4 out-buildings had been destroyed. The entire town of Walsenburg was placed under pre-evacuation status.
When the Spring Creek Fire hit the Spanish Peak Area in 2018, it burned a total of 108,045 acres (437 square kilometers) and was the third-largest wildfire in Colorado history. The fire destroyed 140 buildings and made massive damage to the area and properties, not to mention the emotional impact it had on everyone in the area.
Wildfires happens every year in Colorado and how big an impact the fires will have, largely depends on how prepared we are to combat the wildfires and what we have done to minimize the fire danger. It is not a question of if it will happen again, but rather when it will happen, and SPAWP has been formed to prepare the Spanish Peak region communities how to best handle these destructive events.
SPAWP is currently supporting the Spanish Peaks region by actively participating in and/or administering the following grants and projects:
- FRWRM 2023 : In February 2023, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) granted SPAWP $679,787 under the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) Program to mitigate fire risk across 556 acres of high fire risk forests in Huerfano County, specifically in the Cuchara Valley and Navajo Ranch area, for the next three years. These projects, complementing ongoing U.S. Forest Service and CSFS efforts, aim to enhance firefighter access, establish escape routes, safeguard wildlife, and maintain water quality.
- Hwy 12 – USDA / USFS WUI – Mitigation Matching Funds Awardee: In partnership with Colorado State Forest Service and the Spanish Peaks Alliance for Wildfire Prevention, this project uses a $300k grant to create a 17-mile “Shaded Fuel and Fire Break” on both sides of Hwy 12. It is aimed at protecting people and properties along the corridor and reducing the risk of wildfires, aligning with the National Fire Plan. Community participation and support are crucial for this project.
- BLM-CO Forests and Woodlands Resource Management Grant: This grant, amounting to $55,000, is used for the Spring Creek Fire Erosion and Ips Beetle Mitigation Project. It involves conducting fuel treatments, soil stabilization, and restoration activities to enhance the Cucharas River and Huerfano River watersheds, particularly in Majors Ranch and Middle Creek areas, and focuses on removing trees infested with Ips beetles.
- USDA/USFS Slash Burn Pile – SPAWP Facilitates Community Collaboration: SPAWP, in collaboration with the USDA/USFS and Huerfano County Dept of Emergency and Disaster Management, set up designated areas for slash collection piles for burning. This process helps to prevent dangerous wildfires by safely burning forest debris and providing training activities for Fire Fighters and Forestry Management Personnel.
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