As we watch a million acres burn across numerous Western states, we are reminded that wildfire is never more than a lightning strike away. If you live in the forest, your property is at risk. We can’t control lightning strikes, but by managing the vegetation and fuel loads on your property, we can greatly increase the survivability of your home and other structures in the event of a wildfire.

Fuel Mitigation in Weston County

The Weston County Natural Resource District has partnered with the Weston County Fire Protection District and is now able to provide technical and financial assistance to landowners wishing to implement the following practices. Funding is provided through a grant from Wyoming State Forestry.

Contact the district today to learn more about how we can help you reduce the fuel load on your property.

Defensible Space

Defensible Space around structures is a practice suitable and necessary for properties of any size. Defensible space is a multi-layered buffer around a structure that extends to 100 feet. Vegetation is managed as necessary to reduce the structure’s exposure to direct flames and radiant heat. This is the minimum amount of fuel mitigation that every structure in the forest should have. A few trees can be left as long as they are pruned to avoid torching and spaced far enough apart to prevent flames spreading from crown to crown. Grass needs to be mowed and shrubs should be far enough from the structure to not expose it to direct flames if the shrub where to catch fire. This space makes it safe for fire fighters to park an engine between the fire and your home.

Fuel Treatment

Fuel treatment is a practice suitable outside of the 100-foot defensible space zone.  This zone remains forested, but trees are thinned to a minimum of 4 feet between crowns.  Trees are pruned and heavy woody debris is removed from the forest floor.  This reduces the likelihood of torching and inhibits the ability of flames to spread from crown to crown.   In the event of an intense wildfire, this zone may still burn, but usually not as hot, and the flames are held to the ground.  This practices does not necessarily have to be around a structure.

Fuel Break

Fuel breaks are typically placed along property boundaries, roads or ridgelines.  A Fuel Break is a 100-200 ft.-wide strip of heavily thinned vegetation used to slow or even stop a wildfire.  Like fuel treatment areas, fuel breaks are not necessarily clear-cut, trees can be left as long as they are pruned and maintain approximately 10-ft. crown spacing.  A fuel break gives fire fighters a line to defend during an intense wildfire, but it may stop a low intensity fire on its own.  The landowner has the benefit of predetermining the location of a fire line instead of a fire crew doing it in haste during an emergency.

The fuel mitigation needs of your property are determined by property size, topography, and vegetation type.   A site visit from a forestry professional can improve the outcome of your efforts. Contact the district today to see how we can help you reduce the fuel load on your property.