2016 Report to the Ken-Caryl Community
Ken-Caryl faces a serious risk from wildfire. The foothills have a fire history, topography and wildland fuels, along with adjacent homes and vegetation, that add up to a high-potential hazard. We need to look no further than the Colorado Springs 2012 Waldo Canyon fire in a community very similar to our situation to realize the possible destruction that can take place. During the height of the Waldo Canyon fire, one home was lost every minute; whole neighborhoods were destroyed.
Due to our risk, a Firewise Committee was established early in 2016 through support from Colorado State Forest Service, Jefferson County Emergency Management, West Metro Fire Rescue, Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association, and Ken-Caryl Ranch Metropolitan District, and an application to be part of a National Firewise effort was approved. The committee’s four members are: Daniel Hatlestad (chair), Tom Thompson (secretary), Jim Lawrence and Keith McMillan. Daniel and Keith are members of an adjacent fire department, and Tom and Jim have a combined 70+ years of wildland management and protection experience.
A Ken-Caryl Ranch Community Wildfire Mitigation Plan prepared by Colorado State Forest Service – Golden Office (December 2014) served as the basic planning document to identify issues, opportunities and initial actions. The emphasis was providing homeowners information/education, and to build upon community partnerships with Jefferson County, West Metro, and volunteer support groups.
Valley and North Ranch Wildfire Evacuation Exercise
An informational and educational meeting was held at Chatfield High School prior to the May 21 exercise. Topics were:
• Managing wildfire risks at the residential interface
• Emergency notification systems such as Code Red
• Creating defensible space around your home
• Preparing your family for evacuation
• Role of fuels and prescribed fire mitigation
• Planning for pet-safe evacuation
The evacuation exercise was conducted by West Metro, Jefferson County Emergency Management, volunteer organizations, and several other local, state, and federal agencies. They tested agency coordination, communications and preparedness, as well as provided an opportunity to residents to practice an evacuation without impacting their weekend activities.
Information and Education
Firewise committee members provided informational materials to residents at the Recycling Event, the Spring Fling, the BrewHa Barn Event, and in numerous Life at Ken-Caryl articles. These articles along with some excellent reference material are archived on the Ken-Caryl website (ken-carylranch.org) in the Residents information section.
An example of sharing information and being a responsible neighbor was illustrated by resident Carolee Scoville who organized a wildfire preparedness presentation for her neighbors in the Valley. If you are interested in a neighborhood meeting, contact Keith McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fuels Mitigation Projects
Gary Norton and the Ken-Caryl Ranch Park Rangers, along with contractors, are conducting several fuels mitigation projects and the Christmas tree harvest sale in the open space to reduce risks.
Are We/You Firewise?
By working together and by individual actions we can improve protection to our families, to our property, to our neighbors, and to the wonderful attributes of the Ken-Caryl community. Just as the old saying goes “good fences make good neighbors,” being Firewise makes for being a responsible community member. Our committee looks forward to helping in this effort in 2017, and we appreciate the excellent support given by Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association, Jefferson County Emergency Management, West Metro Fire Rescue, Colorado State Forest Service and the National Firewise Organization.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 14, 2016 Life at Ken-Caryl paper.