June designated Moffat County wildfire awareness month | CraigDailyPress.com

June designated Moffat County wildfire awareness month

Brian Smith

Lynn Barclay, a fire mitigation/education specialist with the Bureau of Land Management's Little Snake Field Office, said it is important for residents to be aware of safe fire practices heading into wildfire season.

Moffat County has one of the highest wildfire occurrence rates in the state, she said.

Considering the coming summer months are predicted to be hotter and dryer in Moffat County than years past, Barclay said local agencies and officials are trying to educate area residents about the best ways to be safe.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission approved, 2-0, a resolution proclaiming June as wildfire awareness month.

Barclay said wildfire awareness month in Moffat County is a cooperative effort between the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Colorado State Forest department, the National Park Service, Moffat County Sheriff's Office, Craig Fire/Rescue, the Maybell Fire Department and Artesia Fire Protection District.

The height of the fire season in Moffat County is from July through August.

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Wildfire awareness month is an effort to raise public awareness of the severity of wildfires not just in this area, but in the state, before fire season begins, Barclay said.

As part of continued wildfire education, the partnering agencies will have a traveling display of fire safety tips, rules, regulations and other information in hopes of curbing wildfires this year.

In 2009, there were 232 wildfires started in Moffat County. Of that total, 38 were started by humans and 194 by lightning.

In 2008, there were 192 wildfires in the county, 33 of which were started by humans and 159 were started by lightning.

Most wildfires result from lightning strikes in the area, but Barclay is also emphasizing fire safety to residents participating in outdoor recreational activities and homeowners.

Barclay said there are several small steps residents can take to better protect their homes from spreading wildfires.

Residents should make sure grass is mowed, weeds surrounding the house are shortened, debris surrounding the house is cleaned up, gutters are cleaned of leaves and sticks, and there is no firewood stored underneath the deck, she said.

"If people would look within 30 feet from their home out and make sure that area is cleared and that a fire doesn't have a path to their home, that can go a long way to keeping fire from reaching their home," she said.

Barclay is also encouraging residents to create openings between trees on their property to better ensure a wildfire does spread further.

Residents making campfires should pay attention to several factors, including the fire danger rating, area fire restrictions and weather conditions, she said.

Fires should not be started if there is high wind or over-hanging brush in the area, she said.

Fires should also be started in a fire ring. If a designated fire ring is not available, residents should clear the ground to the dirt in the area and make a circle of rocks. A two feet clearing around the fire ring should be observed, she said.

Proper extermination of fires is also a large part of preventing wild fires, Barclay said. Residents should use a shovel, dirt and water to extinguish the fire and then wait to make sure it is completely out.

"Get down and try to feel the coals or the dirt," she said. "If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave."

There have been eight wildfires started by lightning and three by humans so far in 2010, Barclay said.

Information on fire restrictions and fire danger rating can be accessed by calling 826-5108.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 2-0, voided warrant resolutions totaling $7,598.

• Approved, 2-0, a grant application with the Colorado Historical Society for a research project at the Medicine Wheel in Vermillion Canyon not to exceed $9,984 in funding from the state.

• Approved, 2-0, meeting minutes from April 13, 27 and 28 and May 11 and 18.

• Approved, 2-0, a core services program sexual abuse treatment services contract with Nancy Tanner of Grand Junction not to exceed $2,800.

• Approved, 2-0, a core services program intensive family therapy contract with Kari Billette of Steamboat Springs not to exceed $10,000.

• Approved, 2-0, a core services program day treatment alternative services contract with Colorado West Regional Mental Health not to exceed $83,155.

• Approved, 2-0, a state reimbursement grant from the Department of Local Affairs for the Moffat County Office of Emergency Management not to exceed $23,300.

• Approved, 2-0, a proclamation from Tom Soos, Moffat County emergency management coordinator, declaring June as wildfire awareness month.

• Approved, 2-0, an abatement petition for the Peroulis Brothers, LTD and a tax refund of $3,621 for collections in 2008 and 2009.

• Approved, 2-0, a personnel requisition for a part-time, seasonal maintenance employee for the parks and recreation department for maintenance at Sherman Youth Camp and Freeman Reservoir.

Note: Commissioner Audrey Danner was absent.

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