Summit County Defensible Space Partners Program

COVID-19 Information- Applications will be accepted while the county is under social distancing protocol. Site visits and application approval will be completed once operations are returned to normal.

The Summit County Defensible Space Partners Program enables residents to remove trees and hazardous fuels from county open space lands adjacent to their private property. Summit County Open Space and Trails (OST) staff receive several requests throughout the year from residents to remove hazard trees on open space. These requests have been permitted in the past on a case by case basis. This permit program formalizes the request mechanism and opens the program to the public. Each application will be reviewed by an Open Space and Trails staff member and a Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) forester.

Stand of dead trees before wildfire mitigation

This program is a permit process by which Summit County residents can complete defensible space work and/or hazardous fuels reduction treatments on Summit County Open Space lands adjacent to their homes.

Summit County OST is actively managing County owned forests for hazardous fuels reduction. Residents may wish to remove hazard trees, hazardous fuels, or complete defensible space treatments on adjacent Summit County property not under consideration for future management. In this case, residents can apply for a permit to remove the hazardous fuels. In addition, these permits allow Summit County to engage private landowners in joint treatments where private property may represent the best or only access to treatment areas.

How Do I Participate?

Residents fill out a permit application (pdf) and submit it to the OST staff via email. The permit application is reviewed by an OST Resource Specialist and Colorado State Forester Service forester. If the initial review confirms property in question is Summit County Open Space, a site visit is scheduled with the resident to review the requested treatment and method.

The permit is either approved or denied. Grounds for denial include, but are not limited to, inappropriate forest treatment, lack of sufficient treatment on adjacent (applicant’s) private property, potential negative impacts to OST natural resources, and/or lack of defensible space achieved in the project scope and area. Permits will be issued in writing via email, with any and all conditions that come along with the permit. 

The permittee is responsible for all costs associated with the program. Applications are received and reviewed on a rolling, year-round basis. The successful permittee may apply for cost sharing through the Summit County Hazardous Fuels Reduction (HFR) Grant. Pre-applications for the HFR grant are generally available in April and final applications are due in May, with grants awarded by the end of July. Any work completed before the grant has been awarded is NOT eligible for reimbursement.

Liability: THE PERMITTEE SHALL INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS SUMMIT COUNTY, THE COLORADO STATE FOREST SERVICE AND THEIR AGENTS FROM ANY AND ALL DAMAGES, CLAIMS, OR DEMANDS ON ACCOUNT OF ANY ACTION BY THE PERMITTEE, THEIR AGENTS, OR EMPLOYEES UNDER THIS PERMIT.

The permittee will read, sign and submit a liability release agreement provided by the county.

Applicant Responsibilities: Applicant must fill out the application and identify trees to be removed with ribbon or flagging prior to site visit inspection by Summit County/CSFS representatives.

Residents with approved applications will be responsible for tree removal and disposal of tops, limbs and branches as set forth in the permit. The use of tracked or wheeled motorized equipment off road on open space is prohibited. If a resident wishes to use such equipment, specific approval is required in the permit.

Other Information:

Once the permit is issued, the resident can proceed with the fuels reduction treatment. The permit must be in possession of the permittee or contractor at all times while working on Summit County property. The permit is good for one year from the date of issue. Landowner must notify OST staff via email when the work is complete to close the permit.

Contact Ashley Garrison, CSFS Forester with additional questions:
Ashley.Garrison@colostate.edu  / 719-466-9626

Summit County Defensible Space Partners Program Application