As the community begins to look toward another projected dry summer in the San Juan Mountains, the Town of Mountain Village is offering increased incentives to homeowners to protect their homes through wildfire mitigation work with the help of its recently hired forester.
The Wildfire Mitigation Defensible Space Incentive Program, created in partnership with the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA) and Town of Mountain Village, will now offer residents a rebate of up to 50 percent off the total cost of mitigation work up to $10,000.
Mountain Village Town Council and TMVOA decided to double the program’s incentive cap for 2021 as wildfire safety remains a top priority for mountain communities throughout the West. This program is for existing Mountain Village properties with existing homes, and not new construction.
Defensible space is an area around a home where trees, fuels and other vegetation are cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire. Defensible space also reduces the chances of a structure fire moving to the surrounding forest.
Mountain Village recently hired a full-time forester, Mike Otto, to oversee the program and the town’s overall forest management plan. He will work with property owners to conduct a home site visit to create a plan unique to the property for mitigation work. Owners will then hire a qualified contractor to do the defensible space work and once work is complete, owners will be eligible for 50 percent of the cost up to $10,000 in reimbursements.
“Over the last few years with low moisture and high fire danger, the town felt it was important to have a dedicated resource in Mountain Village for forestry matters,” said Mountain Village’s Planning and Development Services Director Michelle Haynes. “Creating defensible space and replacing flammable cedar shake roofs have been identified as our two top programmatic priorities.”
Otto holds a degree in forest management from Colorado State University and worked for the Town’s park and recreation team prior to starting as forester.
“The recreation department provided me some opportunities to work toward forest health goals along our trail corridors and over my five years working with that team I became very attached to the land, forests and people who live, play and work in Mountain Village,” Otto said. “I intend to use this new opportunity to help safeguard our forests, watershed and community from wildfire and other challenges associated with a changing climate.”
In addition to creating a defensible space around your home, there are some actions homeowners can take to personally contribute to wildfire safety. Homes with cedar-shake roofs have been identified as the highest potential danger during a wildfire event. In order to assist homeowners with this costly replacement, owners can now apply to have building permit fees waived for cedar-shake roof replacement to a non-flammable approved material.
Homeowners in the lower elevations of Mountain Village can also protect their valuable Douglas-fir trees by using MCH pheromone packets purchased by the town and free of charge to homeowners. To be most effective, these packets should be placed before mid-May.
To take advantage of the Wildfire Mitigation Incentive Program or MCH pheromone packet program, residents can schedule a free home visit with Otto, who will provide recommendations tailored to your home’s specific needs and setting as well as advising how you can best utilize the programs available.
To learn more about both the defensible space or cedar shake incentive programs and schedule a home site visit, please visit townofmountainvillage.com/incentives or contact Town of Mountain Village Forester Mike Otto at [email protected] or 970-369-8103.