News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: May 30, 2018

Wildfire Prevention Patrols Begin in Summit County

Four U.S.F.S. wildfire patrol rangers

Local governments and U.S. Forest Service partner to prevent wildland fires

Bill Jackson, District Ranger, Dillon Ranger District, White River National Forest: 970-262-3451
Dan Gibbs, Summit County Commissioner: 970-333-4707
Erin Opsahl, Summit County Sheriff's Office: 970-389-2475

SUMMIT COUNTY – A freshly trained team of U.S. Forest Service patrollers set out on the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest this week, beginning a summer-long project to prevent wildfires and protect natural resources. The new four-person crew, which will be on the job through mid-September, is part of a collaborative partnership among the Dillon Ranger District; Summit County; Summit County Sheriff's Office; Summit Fire & EMS; Red, White & Blue Fire; and the towns of Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne.

The crew will conduct campsite monitoring, visitor contacts and fire-prevention messaging throughout the Dillon Ranger District, which is located entirely within Summit County. Visitor education will be a top priority, as crew members provide information about U.S. Forest Service and Summit County regulations that protect the natural environment, especially those related to natural resource protection and fire prevention. Contact with people in undeveloped, dispersed campsites will be the top priority.

“A four-person dispersed recreation crew to monitor, patrol, ranger and educate summer visitors on the Dillon Ranger District is a definite game-changer,” District Ranger Bill Jackson said. “In coordination with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, this crew will provide coverage seven days a week and stay focused on the goal of campfire monitoring, dispersed recreation patrol, fire prevention messaging and visitor-education activities this season.”

In addition to the USFS crew, personnel from the Summit County Sheriff's Office will also conduct fire-prevention patrol work.

“The Summit County Sheriff’s Office is proud to collaborate with our partners in this wildfire protection plan," Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. "We will be out there engaging with residents and visitors on the dangers of wildfires, and we'll be working to identify and extinguish potential wildfires before they happen."

The combined effort is being funded by a coalition of local government agencies. Summit County is contributing $86,000 and in-kind services; the local towns and fire districts are contributing an additional $50,000. The Forest Service will provide training, supervision, housing, vehicles and equipment for the USFS crew. In addition to the patrol work, the project includes a public education campaign, which will inform residents and visitors about any fire restrictions enacted during the fire season and educate the public about strategies to prevent wildfires, such as properly extinguishing campfires.

Part of the patrol crew's work will include a thorough, districtwide inventory of dispersed campsites to facilitate future management of camping and fire-prevention activities. At such sites, the crew will remove litter and abandoned property, monitor and remove illegal residential campers, install and maintain signage and enforce camping closures.

Crew members will conduct periodic inspection and maintenance of fire pits in dispersed campsites, including removal of vegetation and overhead branches, removal of ashes and decommission of fire pits that aren't in suitable locations. If fire restrictions are implemented, the crew will educate the public about the restrictions and perform enforcement.

At least two of the four USFS employees will attend a 40-hour Forest Protection Officer (FPO) training, which will allow them to perform enforcement of Forest Service regulations. When appropriate, they will issue violation notices or written warnings. At least two of them will attend basic firefighting training. During periods of high fire danger, additional USFS employees will help with patrol duties.

"Summit County residents are keenly aware of our considerable wildfire risks," County Commissioner Dan Gibbs said. "This patrol initiative is a great complement to everything else our community is doing to mitigate those risks, from creating defensible space to removing beetle kill to building with firewise materials. It's absolutely essential for each one of us to do our part to protect our community from wildfire."


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