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April 22, 2008

    Lesley A. Collins

BLM and Johnson County Fire Mitigation Committee
Conduct Fuels Assessment

The Buffalo Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in cooperation with the Interagency Johnson County Fire Mitigation Committee is conducting a hazardous fuels assessment in the Mosier Gulch/Clear Creek area.

The planning area is located west of Buffalo and includes the area from Turkey Lane (and the water treatment plant) then west along US Highway 16 to the US Forest Service boundary. The area is bounded on the south by Clear Creek and on the north by the top of North Ridge (Windy Ridge). The area includes property managed by several local and government agencies, as well as private landowners.

According to Buffalo Field Office Wildland Fuels Specialist, Steve Hannan, "The fire protection agencies are focusing efforts in Mosier Gulch and this portion of Clear Creek because it is a high priority wildland urban interface area and there is high risk for fire starts along the Highway 16 corridor. The wildland urban interface occurs where houses or other structures meet or intermix with wildland vegetation."

The Johnson County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) identified the Clear Creek watershed as the county’s highest priority area for protection due to its importance as the municipal water supply watershed, its scenic and recreational values, and the existence of numerous communities considered at risk from wildfire.

The Mosier Gulch/Clear Creek plan is one of several fire mitigation projects targeted at reducing fire risk in the Clear Creek corridor. Fuel treatment projects are ongoing along Clear Creek and the city green belt area immediately west of Buffalo.

The risk assessment for the Mosier Gulch/Clear Creek planning area will identify areas where wildland fuels in the wildland urban interface pose a potential for catastrophic loss from wildland fire. The goal of the fuels mitigation program is to protect high value property from wildland fire and reduce the chances for wildland fire spreading from the public lands onto private or community lands and vice-versa. The Fire Mitigation Committee and cooperating agencies’ hazardous fuels mitigation program works to reduce the threat of wildland fire through fire prevention, reduction of fuels, increasing fire protection capabilities of communities, and public education.

Developments in the Mosier Gulch/Clear Creek corridor include individual residences both within and outside of subdivisions, the Buffalo Outdoor Rifle Club, the Mosier Gulch Picnic Area, and telecommunication facilities on North Ridge (Windy Ridge). Potential sources of ignition for wildland fire in the area include natural sources such as lightning or accidental starts such as human caused ignition from recreation activities and vehicle accidents or malfunctions. Other potential wildland fire ignition sources could be the result of illegal acts (arson) including shooting fireworks or tossing a lit cigarette out of a vehicle.

A second phase of the assessment will identify actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of wildland fire to the community. Proposed actions will be included in a hazardous fuels mitigation plan that will be developed in consultation and cooperation with residents and property owners in the community. The Fire Mitigation Committee welcomes input from area residents and property owners. Funding is available through the county mitigation and community assistance programs to assist private landowners in reducing or removing hazardous fuels from their properties.

For more information contact Jim Shell at the Johnson County District 1 fire hall, in Buffalo, or call (307) 620-0091. Steve Hannan can be contacted at the Buffalo Field Office at (307) 684-1144.


Media note: Photos of the area are available by email from Steve Hannan at the Buffalo Field Office.