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CWPP FAQs

What is a CWPP?
A Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a community-based planning effort to clarify and refine priorities for the protection of life, property and critical infrastructure in the wildland urban interface (WUI). The process brings together a diverse group of stakeholders including local government, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), local fire protection districts, and community members to establish and accomplish objectives through a collaborative process. CWPPs should address concerns for public safety, community sustainability, natural resources and analyzes areas of interest including hazard mitigation, wildfire response, community preparedness, and structural ignitability through the Community Risk Assessment. All CWPPs must meet minimum standards established by the Colorado State Forest Service.

What are the minimum standards required in a CWPP as set forth by the State Forester? (from www.csfs.colostate.edu)
Participants The CWPP process must include local government, the local fire authority, local CSFS representatives and representatives of relevant federal land management agencies, as well as other relevant non-governmental partners. Partners should assess community risks and values, identify protection priorities and establish fuels treatment projects. Plan Components Include: A description of the community’s wildland-urban interface (WUI) problem areas, preferably with a map and narrative. Information on the community’s preparedness to respond to a wildland fire. A community risk analysis that considers, at a minimum, fuel hazards, risk of wildfire occurrence and community values to be protected both in the immediate vicinity and the surrounding zone where potential fire spread poses a realistic threat. Identification of fuels treatment priorities on the ground and methods of treatment. Ways to reduce structural ignitability. An implementation plan. Level of Specificity A CWPP can be developed for any level of “community,” from a homeowners association or mountain town to a county or metropolitan city. Information contained in the plan should be at a level of specificity appropriate for the community. County level plans can be used as an umbrella for community plans but should not be considered a substitute. A county plan will not provide the detail needed for project-level planning. All core group members must sign the plan, identifying that it is reasonable and implementable and they agree with the process that took place and the outcome prior to the CSFS accepting the plan through the signature of the District Forester.

What is the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)?
The wildland urban interface, commonly called the WUI can be defined as an area where development and wildland fuels meet at a well defined boundary The line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.

What is a community?
For the purpose of a CWPP, a community can be as small or as large as appropriate for the scope and scale of the CWPP. For example, subdivisions, or groups of subdivisions located geographically cohesive and consisting of similar vegetation may make a good “community” for the purpose of a CWPP.

Why is Douglas County preparing a CWPP?
The CWPP process was established through Title I of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) of 2003. HFRA provided communities with an opportunity to influence how and where federal agencies implement hazardous fuels reduction projects on federal lands, and where federal funds were distributed for hazardous fuels reduction projects on non federal lands. Colorado Senate Bill 09-001 requires Counties to prepare a CWPP for the purpose of addressing wildfires in fire hazard areas within the unincorporated portions of the County. Upon completion of the Douglas County CWPP Douglas County, with the direction of the core team and the assistance of stakeholders, will have clarified and refined its priorities for the protection of life, property, and critical infrastructure in the WUI through the collaborative process.

Why does my community need a CWPP?
CWPPs help protect and prepare communities in the event of a wildfire. If your community resides in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and you believe there is a risk of wildfire, a CWPP can be excellent tool to gain community support to raise awareness about wildfire threat and gain support to mitigate hazards. The most successful CWPPs are those with grass roots efforts.

How will my community benefit from a CWPP?
Communities benefit from a CWPP by being more prepared for a wildfire. A CWPP can influence where and how federal monies are spent on hazardous fuels reduction. Communities with CWPPs can compete competitively for public funding to implement hazardous fuels reduction projects. Communities can work cooperatively with technical and public safety experts to reduce vulnerability to wildfire hazards in their communities. Communities can take ownership of efforts to reduce wildfire hazards in their communities.

Why should I get involved?
Stakeholder input is the best method to achieve the best products, local knowledge, and community input. Stakeholder input will identify and address specific needs presented by the communities.

How do I get involved in the Douglas County CWPP process?
Citizens are encouraged to attend public community meetings within their fire protection district and to review the information and products that are disseminated on this web page. Additionally, any questions and comments can be submitted to the DC CWPP core team – Jill Welle at jwelle@douglas.co.us

If Douglas County has a CWPP does my community need another plan?
The Douglas County CWPP will be an umbrella plan that will provide information and support local-level CWPPs. The Douglas County CWPP will include a county-wide wildfire hazard assessment, county-wide community base map, and a discussion of the county’s wildfire suppression situation. Communities who are interested in developing a CWPP at a local level can then supplement the umbrella plan with an implementation plan specific to their needs.

Are CWPPs policy or legal documents?
Community Wildfire Protection Plans are only plans, not policy documents and not legally binding. They are intended to inspire grassroots efforts where stakeholders within communities, including homeowners associations and citizens, fire protection districts, and government and business entities, work together to help make their communities safer from wildfire. Elected officials may use information and recommendations from CWPPs to create policy, but the plan itself does not contain policy.

Who owns open space lands?
Certain open parcels are deeded to the Douglas County through the development process in addition to those that are purchased with the open space tax. There are also open space parcels deeded to Home Owners Associations and Metro Districts. Parcels are also deeded for schools through the development process. Not all naturally vegetated parcels within subdivisions are necessarily open space, as some may be private lots that have not yet been built on.

Will the hazard assessment in the Douglas County CWPP be used by the insurance companies?
This concern has been expressed in the past when different wildfire hazard assessments have been completed. It is important to realize that most insurance companies have their own assessments to determine policies and that there are a variety of wildfire hazard assessments available to the public. To our knowledge, CWPPs have not been used by the insurance industry to assess homes and policies. Additionally, the hazard assessment and community rankings look only at general landscape-scale hazard potential and not the specific hazard to each individual home in identified communities. The Douglas County CWPP will clearly state that it is not appropriate to make inferences about the hazard level of individual homes from this assessment. More, fine-scale variables such as defensible space, access, construction materials, and response aspects must also be factored in. For example, a home with defensible space and fire-resistant construction materials that is considered having a low to moderate hazard, but resides in a high to very high rated community.

Does Douglas County Treat their Open Space Lands for Wildfire Mitigation?
Douglas County has treated its Open Space lands for Wildfire Mitigation in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Through the county-owned lands hazard assessment, as part of the Douglas County CWPP, county-owned lands that pose a significant hazard to adjacent structures, provide the opportunity for a demonstration site, or would make adjacent landowner treatments more effective will be recommended for fire mitigation treatment to the Douglas County Open Space Department. The Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources Department and the Douglas County Wildfire Mitigation staff will prioritize treatment of these lands according to funding, effects to wildlife, recreation, and other conservation values, conservation easement restrictions, and other applicable factors.

Can I treat Douglas County Open Space Lands myself?
All treatments will be accomplished either by County staff or by contractors selected by County staff. Parks and Open Space rules and regulations, specifically R005-033 Sec. III B (i) prohibits anyone removing, destroying, damaging anything on parks or open space, including vegetation. This is also covered in the broad context of CRS 18-9-117 Unlawful Conduct on Public Property which allows jurisdictions to restrict activities of the public in order to protect its resources.