Continuing to Prepare for, Prevent, & Respond to Wildfires: Governor Polis Encourages Coloradans to Take Everyday Steps to Save Money and Improve Wildfire Preparedness
DENVER – As the Polis Administration continues to prepare for, prevent, and respond to wildfires, Governor Jared Polis encourages Coloradans to take everyday steps to reduce the risk of wildfire spreading in and around homes, actions that save people money, protect property, and support Colorado’s hardworking firefighters. The Polis Administration continues to take bold action to ensure Coloradans have every tool in the toolbox to prevent small sparks from becoming destructive wildfires.
“We are taking action to prevent and fight wildfires while saving people money, protecting property, and supporting Colorado’s first responders. Coloradans can support these shared efforts by removing fuel for fires near and around your home and neighborhood,” said Gov. Polis. “These are important steps that can make a big difference to protect a home, neighborhood, and community if a wildfire does break out.”
Committed to saving people money while preparing for the year-round risk of wildfires, Gov. Polis signed bipartisan legislation sponsored by State Representatives Don Valdez and Mike Lynch, and State Senators Cleave Simpson and Pete Lee, to expand the wildfire mitigation tax incentive and create a wildfire mitigation grant program, allowing Coloradans to save money when preparing for and preventing wildfires.
Local fire mitigation efforts also help protect and support Colorado’s firefighters and save people money which are top priorities for Gov. Polis. Last week in Golden, Governor Polis signed an Executive Order to provide state employees with five days of paid leave to serve as volunteer firefighters and first responders. Earlier this month, Governor Polis met with fire district leaders in Rico and Eads and heard directly about the challenges they face including recruiting volunteer firefighters. This month in Evergreen, Gov. Polis announced that the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program will provide funding to support forest health and wildfire mitigation work, protecting Colorado’s communities, infrastructure, and watersheds from wildfires.
Coloradans can help prevent fires by making property less prone to wildfires and less dangerous to first responders and their neighbors should a fire occur. Fire mitigation can be as simple as checking the areas close to homes and buildings, including roofs, decks, and gutters, for any materials that can serve as fuel for a wildfire, such as pine needles or dead leaves, and removing branches that hang close to the roof.
“Colorado is one lightning strike, one unattended campfire, and one drought season away from our next megafire. With the leadership of Governor Polis and the state legislature we have taken significant steps to reduce Coloradans’ wildfire risk,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We established larger grants to make impactful investments in local projects to protect life, property, and critical infrastructure, and are moving more resources to hand crews for on the ground mitigation work. We are also serving as an example for employers by enabling state employees more time off to serve as firefighters or first responders in their communities. These efforts among others, including landowners creating defensible spaces on their own properties, will give us a fighting chance to create more resilient communities and protect our natural resources.”
“Nearly half of Coloradoans live in the Wildland-Urban interface areas of our State. This population factor, coupled with extreme drought conditions, climate changes, and expected hot and dry conditions, increases the risk of more catastrophic fires in Colorado,” said Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety. “We have made much needed advancements in recent years, strengthening our partnerships with local and federal agencies, adopting the strategy of an aggressive initial fire attack, improving communications, and investing in our fire-fighting capacity with both aviation and ground resources. But given that the large majority of wildland fires are human-caused, there is no better prevention than the people who live, work and play in Colorado being extremely careful that they don’t become the cause of our next crisis. Wildfire season is all year now; so should be our awareness and precaution.”
The Polis Administration continues to take bold and innovative action as the threat of wildfires becomes a year-round reality. Gov. Polis signed into law a series of bills to expand the state’s ability and resources to prevent and respond to wildfires.
The Polis Administration encourages Coloradans and their communities to use the Colorado State Forest Service Home Ignition Zone Checklists and participate in Firewise USA programs to prepare for wildfires.