Living in the wildland-urban interface: Part 2


By Roberta Tolan

SUN Columnist

Living in the wildland-urban interface poses unique challenges to homeowners wanting to maximize the chances that their home will survive a wildfire. One important thing residents can do is to create a wildfire defensible space around their property.

You can do everything suggested by the firefighting community and still lose your home, but the more you do, the better your chances your home will survive. Creating a wildfire defensible space around your home will help in the following ways:

• If firefighters cannot get to your home, a defensible space could maximize the chances that your home could survive on its own.

• Firefighters may be more likely to defend your home if they think that they can do it safely and be effective.

• If your home has been cut off by a fire, it will be far safer to “shelter in place” if necessary.

• Burning embers are responsible for more homes lost to wildfires than the flaming front of a fire. Clearing combustible materials from close to a house or structure (this is called the “home ignition zone”) such as oak leaves, pine needles, wood mulch etc., will help keep embers from igniting and starting your home or deck on fire.

Zone 2 

An effective defensible space involves three management zones in which different techniques are used. These management zones should be created around each structure to be protected and it is important to remember that once created, these zones may need ongoing maintenance to maintain the defensible space.

In the previous week’s article, we described how to clear Zone 1 of the defensible space. The following describes what to do in Zone 2, the area extending at least 100 feet from all structures. If this distance goes beyond your property line, try and work with your neighbor to complete an appropriate defensible zone.

Zone 2 is the area of fuel reduction designed to diminish the intensity of a fire approaching your home. The following actions can help reduce fuels near your home and provide firefighters a safer environment to protect your home.

• Remove stressed, diseased, dead or dying trees and shrubs.

• Remove enough trees and large shrubs to create at least 10 feet between crowns.

• Remove all ladder fuels from under remaining trees. Prune tree branches to a height of 10 feet from the ground or one-third the height of the tree, whichever is less.

• Thin out trees along the driveway all the way to the main access road.

• Keep shrubs at least 10 feet from the edge of tree branches to prevent fire laddering.

• Periodically prune and maintain shrubs to prevent excessive growth. Remove common ground junipers whenever possible.

• Mow or trim wild grasses to a maximum height of 6 inches.

• Avoid accumulation of fuels such as logs, branches, slash and wood chips. Stack firewood uphill and at least 30 feet from a structure. Clear all vegetation within 10 feet of woodpiles.

• Move all propane tanks and natural gas meters to the same level and at least 30 feet from a structure. Install 5 feet of nonflammable ground cover around the tank or meter.

Next week, we will address Zone 3; the farthest area from your home.

More information on protecting your home and property from fire can be found at the Colorado State Forest Service website at and from Colorado State University Extension and its partnering organizations at

Archuleta County Fair 

Friday, July 12, is 4-H Promotion Day for the fair.

Local 4-H members will be wearing their 4-H Green and putting up fair posters at all of the local businesses.

They will also be selling tickets for the Chuckwagon dinner — to be held Aug. 3 from 4:30-6 p.m. Chuckwagon tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. If you see them, ask them about their 4-H experiences and the projects that they have been working on all year. They’ll be excited to share.

If your business gets missed, contact the Extension office at 264-5931 and we’ll send someone over.

For more information on this year’s exciting fair events, or for contest and event entry forms, visit Full four-day and single-day entry wristbands can be purchased at the CSU Extension office located at the fairgrounds on U.S. 84.


July 11 — Mountain View Homemakers Auction, 9 a.m.

July 11 — 4-H Poultry Project meeting, 4 p.m.

July 11 — Thursday Night Rodeo, 6 p.m.

July 12 — 4-H Fair Promotion Day, 9:30 a.m.

July 12 — 4-H Rabbit Project meeting, 3 p.m.

July 13 — 4-H Dog Agility Project meeting, 10 a.m.

July 15 — 4-H Scrapbooking Project meeting, 10 a.m.

July 15 — 4-H Sewing Project meeting, 3 p.m.

July 15 — Backcountry Horseman, 5:30 p.m.

July 16 — 4-H Sewing Project meeting, 3 p.m.

July 16 — 4-H Fairgrounds Cleanup Day, 5:30 p.m.

July 16 — 4-H Council meeting, 6:30 p.m.

July 17 — Mountain High Garden Club meeting, 10 a.m.

July 17 — 4-H Sports Fishing Project meeting, 6 p.m.

July 17 — 4-H Weekly Weigh-In, 6 p.m.

July 17 — Archuleta County Fair Board meeting, 6 p.m.

July 17 — Western Heritage Committee meeting, 6 p.m.

July 17 — Red Ryder Rodeo meeting, 7 p.m.

July 18 — Thursday Night Rodeo, 6 p.m.

July 19 — 4-H Scrapbooking meeting, 8 a.m.

July 19 — 4-H Wolf Creek Wonders Group meeting, 2 p.m.

July 20 — 4-H Dog Agility Project meeting, 10 a.m.

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension provides science based information on youth development (4-H), agriculture and natural resources, horticulture, family and consumer sciences and community development.