County commission to review wildfire plan

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Moffat County Natural Resources Specialist Ann Franklin will present a draft for phase III of the countywide fire plan at a commissioners meeting Monday.

Phase III is the final phase in a plan that has been in the works since May of 2001.

The purpose of the plan is to "focus on resource benefits and reduction of hazardous fuels by restoring and maintaining the natural fire regime in a manner consistent with landowner desires and safety for both the public and firefighters."

The plan has been conducted in three phases.

The first was for the northwest corner of Moffat County, the second was for the southwest corner and the third, which will be presented Monday, is for the eastern part of Moffat County.

In the past two years, every rural landowner in Moffat County was sent a letter requesting time to discuss how their land might or might not benefit from fires.

From those discussions, a fire plan was developed.

The plan was first implemented last summer, when a 500-acre wildfire broke on Bureau of Land Management land near the privately owned Cross Mountain Ranch.

Had a plan not already been in place for that part of the county, the fire would have been extinguished immediately because of its proximity to private land.

But because the area landowners had already agreed to a plan that would allow a fire to burn on their property, the fire was allowed to work its natural course.

If the commissioners approve the draft for phase III, a plan will be available that addresses fires throughout the entire county.

From then on, if a fire breaks on private land in the county, the landowner and surrounding landowners will first be contacted to see if they still agree with the terms agreed upon when they signed the fire plan.

The BLM, sheriff's department and Moffat County commissioners will then have to agree to let the fire burn.

If just one of those entities does not give the go ahead, the fire

will be extinguished.

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