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West Vail wildfire mitigation work gets boost from state wildland firefighters

August 30, 2022, 12:55 pm

The Town of Vail on Monday issued the following press release on wildfire mitigation work going on in West Vail:

The sound of chainsaws in the woods is common each summer in Vail, as crews from Vail Fire and Emergency Services have worked for years to reduce wildfire risk throughout the community. Now, Vail is getting some welcome assistance from the Colorado State Wildland Inmate Fire Team (SWIFT) based out of Rifle.

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The SWIFT crew is working on a fuels reduction project at the Deer Underpass State Wildlife Area in Intermountain, under the direction of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The SWIFT crew includes 13 to 20 state wildland firefighters who will be cutting and piling wildfire fuels on approximately 10 acres. District Wildlife Manager Devin Duval says he is excited to see the work being accomplished on the ground.  

The Deer Underpass project was identified in the 2020 Vail Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). In spring of 2022, Vail Fire and Emergency Services assisted Colorado Parks and Wildlife in designing the fuels reduction project and obtaining four weeks of work from SWIFT through funding from the new Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program. The program was designed to quickly move $17.5 million in state stimulus dollars to get work underway as soon as possible on fuels reduction projects throughout Colorado. 

Vail’s CWPP was developed to provide comprehensive protection from wildfire for the entire community. “Wildfires do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries, so our projects shouldn’t either,” said Wildland Program Manager Paul Cada. He noted that Vail has long standing and productive working relationships with state and federal land management agencies, as well as many programs to help individual property owners.

The Deer Underpass project builds on fuels reduction work that has already been completed on U.S. Forest Service, state-owned and private properties in the area. The SWIFT crew is expected to be onsite until mid-September. Resulting piles will be burned by crews from Vail Fire and Emergency Services during the winter, when snow covers the ground.   

For more information about the project, contact Cada at 970-477-3475 or at pcada@vailgov.com.

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