Group sees mitigation efforts in East Canyon

Recent growth is seen below some burned trees in East Canyon. Enlargephoto

Caleb Soptelean/Cortez Journal

Recent growth is seen below some burned trees in East Canyon.

To mitigate or not mitigate?

That might have been a question one could’ve asked prior to this past summer’s Weber Canyon Fire, which started June 22 and burned until July 1.

But for those La Plata and Montezuma county residents who toured the East Canyon on Saturday, the question had likely already been answered.

Montezuma County’s Firewise Coordinator Rebecca Samulski facilitated the tour, which included about 20 people. She received quite a bit of help from East Canyon homeowner Philip Walters.

Walters, who serves as a Firewise ambassador for his neighborhood, narrated the tour.

Several stops were planned in the Elk Stream and Elk Spring subdivisions where attendees could see the effect of fire mitigation around homes. The bus stopped at the homes of Jeff Schaffer, Louise Lawson, Odin Christensen and Walters, letting the participants see what mitigation had been done around their structures.

Walters stressed that one shouldn’t just protect the home, but expand the mitigation area to protect trees around the home too.

Protecting one’s home by removing brush, trees and other incendiary material located close to the home is good. However, by removing brush from underneath trees farther out and doing some tree thinning, the remaining trees can likely be saved during a fire, Samulski said. Firefighters can start any necessary backburns outside of the extended mitigation area, she noted.

“When the firefighters see we’ve worked on this, they work harder at protecting our homes,” said Walters.

No homes were lost during the Weber Fire, but quite a bit of the vegetation was burned, including piñon juniper, gambel oak and ponderosa pine.

“This is a work in progress. We still have a lot of mitigation to do,” said Schaffer.

For more information on the Firewise program or to become an ambassador, call Samulski at 564-4007 or go online at southwestcoloradofires.org/Firewise.

La Plata County residents can call La Plata County CoordinatorPam Wilson at 385-8909.

Jeanne Archambeault, Mancos Times editor, also contributed to this story.

Next to Jeff Schaffer’s house, the fire damage can be seen, along with the mitigation that was done. Enlargephoto

Jeanne ARchambeault/Times

Next to Jeff Schaffer’s house, the fire damage can be seen, along with the mitigation that was done.

Philip Walters, a homeowner in East Canyon, talks about the fire mitigation that he did around his home. Enlargephoto

Jeanne Archambeault/Times

Philip Walters, a homeowner in East Canyon, talks about the fire mitigation that he did around his home.

The bus tour of East Canyon was coordinated by Becca Samulski, Montezuma County Coordinator, FireWise of Southwest Colorado. Enlargephoto

Jeanne ARchambeault/Times

The bus tour of East Canyon was coordinated by Becca Samulski, Montezuma County Coordinator, FireWise of Southwest Colorado.

Trees around homes in East Canyon were “limbed out”, or had lower limbs removed, to help mitigate fires destroying the home. Enlargephoto

Jeanne Archambeault/Times

Trees around homes in East Canyon were “limbed out”, or had lower limbs removed, to help mitigate fires destroying the home.