Two communities immediately north of Norwood, Deer Mesa and Mailbox, which are both in Montrose County, were rated as the region’s most vulnerable areas in the study area and were identified as being at “extreme” risk. (The study area includes portions of Montrose County within the Norwood Fire Protection District.)
The San Miguel County Commissioners formally adopted the plan, which updates a 2005 plan, last week. The new plan is compliant with legislation enacted by Congress following the devastating wildfire seasons of 2000 and 2002, including the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, which appropriated funding for wildfire management, including fuel reduction and preparedness.
The next steps in the county’s management of wildfire risk include promoting community awareness of the hazards and risks from wildfire and prioritizing mitigation programs, including the removal of fuel, Jennifer Dinsmore told the county commissioners prior to the adoption of the plan on Wednesday, Feb 18. Dinsmore is the emergency manager with the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office and spearheaded the plan’s development. A public education task force has already begun to meet, Dinsmore added, and fire departments in the county along with the sheriff’s office are developing fuel reduction projects as part of their annual work plans.
Education will take the form of brochures, presentations, web information, booths at seasonal events, and public service announcements.
As much as 21 percent of the land in San Miguel County, or a total of 17,351 acres, are at moderate to high hazard from wildfire, according to the new plan. The plan describes potential wildfire activity under various weather conditions. It also recommends improvements to street signs and addressing, describes how homes can be made safer, and makes specific recommendations for each of the 30 communities it identifies as being at some degree of risk.
Not all of the residents in the county face moderate to extreme risk. Residents of Aldasoro, the Norwood agricultural area, Ophir, San Bernardo and at the region’s far west end, in Egnar, Redvale and Slick Rock, can take comfort from living in communities rated as being at “low” risk.
The full report can be seen at sanmiguelsheriff.com.