Living with Nature: Wildfire, Slopes and Soils, Flooding and Wildlife

EnvironmentalWildfire Hazard Areas and Mitigation Requirements

Many residents value the privacy and seclusion of vegetated property.  When property is developed wildfire mitigation may be required to reduce the risk of wildfire.  Minimum defensible space requirements must be met prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for habitable structures, and prior to completion of out-buildings, in wildfire hazard areas.  Staff is also available to provide assistance to existing homeowners at no charge.

Wildfire regulations and permit processes:

Many subdivisions have prepared and adopted Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) that identify collaboratively developed action steps for reducing hazards and risks associated with wildfire.

Steep Slopes and Soil Hazards

Certain areas of the County, particularly near the western foothills, have significant geologic and other soil hazards, which can require expensive foundation designs and other forms of mitigation.  Homes sited within areas of steep slope, rock fall hazard, or steeply dipping bedrock are discouraged. When a building permit is requested, the County will require the submittal of a site-specific soils investigation to ensure that the foundation and other structural design elements can be accommodated with acceptable levels of risk.

To find out more about the general characteristics of soils in your area, consult the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The County’s Comprehensive Master Plan map indicating general areas of hazards, including floodplains, can be viewed at: Map 9.1 Class Three Hazards and “Environmental Constraints.

Floodplains

As a landowner or potential property purchaser, you should be aware of any mapped 100-year floodplains (regulated by both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Douglas County) that may fall within the property boundaries.  The County keeps records of mapped floodplains and other flood-hazard areas, but not all remote areas have been mapped.  A professional can be retained to determine the limits of any floodplains on your property if you have specific concerns.

Activities that would obstruct or alter the course of a mapped floodplain, such as building construction or placement of fill, are prohibited without obtaining a Floodplain Development Permit from Douglas County. The elevation of your home and other habitable structures should be sited well above the flood elevation for safety reasons. At the time of building permit, the County will review your driveway alignment relative to the crossing of drainage courses and necessary bridging.  Floodplains and other drainage courses serve as important wildlife habitat and movement corridors.

Wildlife

One benefit of rural living is the opportunity to share your property with many species of wildlife.  Feeding or directly interacting with wildlife is not advisable, and often illegal, as animals can quickly become a nuisance, if not a danger, to human beings. In addition, fed animals can become dependent on humans, losing their ability to fend for themselves in the wild.

Pet food and trash can attract anything from skunks to bears, so make sure trash is in a secure area until it is removed. In general, it is best to enjoy wildlife from a distance.  The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife provides detailed information regarding living with wildlife.

Weather

Colorado weather can be extreme. In remote areas of the County, rural residents should prepare for the worst, as access is limited and commercial areas and services are less readily available.