Eby Creek Mesa residents spend COVID-19 isolation preparing for wildfire threat | VailDaily.com

Eby Creek Mesa residents spend COVID-19 isolation preparing for wildfire threat

Residents of Eby Creek Mesa, located north of Eagle, are putting their COVID-19 isolation time to good use by working on wildfire mitigation measures such as building slash piles.
Special to the Daily

EAGLE  — Residents of the Eby Creek Mesa neighborhood are using their time in isolation from the COVID-19 calamity to prepare themselves against another potential threat.

They are getting an early start on wildfire mitigation by collecting their branches and yard debris.

“To see people already building up their slash piles in March is not ordinary,” noted Eric Lovgren, the wildfire mitigation coordinator for Eagle County. “What a perfect thing to do at this time. You have kids that need things to do and it’s about the right time to get ready for the fire season.”

Lovgren is a resident of Eby Creek Mesa, but he didn’t spark his neighbors’ fire mitigation activities. He noted that another resident, Pete Denise, recently sent out a mailer reminding Eby Creek residents to prepare for the fire season.

“In the neighborhood, we now have with people who have a lot of time on their hands so it sparked action,” Lovgren said.

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Spring preparations

Every year, the Eby Creek Homeowners Association sends out a call for residents to clear branches, leaves and other yard debris from their property. The HOA then brings in a chipper to the subdivision park so residents can get rid of large branches.

“It’s important for people to have a free way to get rid of branches and debris instead of just dragging them to their back yard and having more debris on the ground,” Denise said. “Getting rid of that fuel is important for the whole neighborhood.”

Lovgren said the HOA’s effort to lessen fire danger is a model supported by local, state and regional agencies.

“Eagle County is looking to partner with other HOAs,” Lovgren said. “We have a shared responsibility to prepare for fire season.”

The isolation imposed by COVID-19 also presents an opportunity for homeowners to take a good look at their comprehensive fire protection planning. County and fire officials offer free fire mitigation assessments and while it’s not a great time to reach out to strapped emergency service agencies, Lovgren is still on the job.

“I can still look at properties from a safe distance, outside,” Lovgren said. “Even during this unusual time, we can provide some guidance and some assistance.”

What’s more, homeowners with extra time on their hands can spend some of it checking out online fire mitigation resources such as REALfire.

Lovgren noted some wildfire prevention efforts can qualify for up to $2,500 in state tax credits. To learn more, contact him at eric.lovgren@eaglecounty.state.us.

And for anyone who is ready to grab a saw and a rake, he has some practical advice. A slash pile set for a chipper must contain only organic material — no lumber or other trash.

“And mitigation isn’t just about trimming trees. It’s about raking leaves away from the deck and getting them out of the gutters, taking firewood off the deck and a lot of other things, ” Lovgren said.

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