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Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)
Volunteers wearing hardhats cleaning up forest to mitigate against wildfire

Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)

Boulder County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plans

A Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a planning document that results from a collaborative planning effort. 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. The effort identifies and prioritizes measures to protect life, property, and critical infrastructure in the wildland urban interface (WUI) during a wildfire event. The CWPP analyzes areas of interest including hazard mitigation, wildfire response ability, community preparedness, and structural ignitability. All Colorado CWPPs must meet the Colorado State Forest Service CWPP Minimum Standards.

The current Boulder County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) was completed in 2011. It is the result of the hard work of hundreds of residents, stakeholders, and agency staff.

Boulder County began the process of creating an updated CWPP in the spring of 2023. This new CWPP will be completed in 2024. More information about this can be found in the FAQs below or in the CWPP Update Story Map. Check the Wildfire Mitigation Events Calendar for a schedule of community meetings and other events related to the process.

Vision

By actively implementing this plan, residents, communities, and organizations in Boulder County will significantly increase and improve wildfire mitigation and preparedness efforts in advance of wildfires to help reduce the high risks and enormous costs associated with wildfire in Boulder County.

CWPP Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Goals

  • Save lives
  • Protect property
  • Reduce risk
  • Enhance the environment
  • Promote community

Purpose

  • To reduce the number (prevention) and severity (mitigation) of future wildfires in Boulder County.
  • To help reduce the financial and emotional impacts associated with the aftermath of catastrophic wildfires.
  • To help restore Boulder County’s forest and grassland ecosystems to good health to increase resilience to wildfire.
  • To support local fire protection districts’ CWPPs.
  • To unite all communities of Boulder County – residents of the mountains and the plains – in a collaborative effort to reduce the negative impacts of wildfire.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)

  • A living document for wildfire resilience and mitigation planning and implementation.
  • As a County-level CWPP, the CWPP acts as an “umbrella” for other local CWPP planning efforts in the county .
  • Empowers communities and local fire protection districts to organize, plan, & take action to enhance wildfire resilience & protection.
  • Identifies the wildland fire risks to the wildland urban interface (WUI).
  • Identifies strategies to reduce the risks to lives, homes, and critical infrastructure.
  • Helps to meet the criteria of state, federal, and local grant programs for potential funding to implement projects identified and prioritized in the CWPP.
  • A regulatory document.
  • A document that creates policy.
  • Legally binding.
  • A comprehensive scientific report or publication.

A CWPP has two main functions: 1) to identify and prioritize fuel reduction treatments needed in the planning area and outline methods for addressing these, and 2) to make recommendations for measures that reduce structural ignitability and outline methods for addressing these recommended projects.

Additional benefits include addressing community concerns regarding wildland fire risk. The CWPP provides additional information for the community regarding the risk from wildland fire and actions residents can take to mitigate risk around their properties year-round.

Boulder County is updating their 2011 CWPP in 2023, with a target completion date of summer 2024. We have entered a new era of climate-driven wildfires. In 2020, Colorado experienced the three largest wildfires in the state’s history, which produced an almost unimaginable amount of damage. While it’s been established that all of Boulder County faces risk from wildland fire, the 2021 Marshall Fire, the most destructive in Colorado history, elevated this reality with many communities in which wildfire was previously not commonly thought of as a pressing risk.

The update to the CWPP will identify and address threats posed by wildfire to Boulder County residents’ lives, livelihoods, and property. Stakeholders, communities, and land managers will be able to use the CWPP as a tool to implement projects on the ground that are identified in the CWPP. The CWPP will also contain the latest information on defensible space and other mitigation efforts residents can use for their properties and homes.

In April 2023, the Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting wildfire team applied for and was awarded a Colorado State Forest Service Incentives for Local Government grant (ILG) and a Colorado State Forest Service Healthy Forests and Vibrant Act grant (HFVA) to hire a professional consultant to conduct a county wide wildland fire risk assessment, and facilitate community engagement events and develop the CWPP, which will include a story map and recommendation project tracking application and dashboard.

A CWPP can vary in scope, scale, and detail, but must meet three minimum requirements for their contents and adoption per the Healthy Forests Restoration Act and the State of Colorado. These requirements include:

  • Collaboration – A CWPP must be collaboratively developed. Local and state officials must meaningfully involve nongovernmental stakeholders and federal agencies that manage land in the planning area.
  • Prioritized Fuel Reduction – A CWPP must identify and prioritize areas for hazardous fuel reduction treatments on both federal and nonfederal land and recommend the types and methods of treatment that, if completed, would reduce the risk to the community.
  • Treatment of Structural Ignitability – A CWPP must recommend measures that homeowners and communities can take to reduce the ignitability of structures throughout the plan area.
  • Collaboratively include key stakeholders.
  • Engage residents and communities through Community Engagement events, meetings, and an online public survey on this web page: Wildfire Mitigation – Boulder County.
  • Conduct a Community Wildfire Protection Plan Public Survey (arcgis.com).
  • Use a targeted, cross-jurisdictional, regional approach to leverage local and regional resources.
  • Incorporate a flexible and adaptive management process that accommodates a wide variety of county/community needs for the wildland urban interface (WUI) that will:
    • Identify wildfire risks to communities and critical infrastructure.
    • Identify gaps and needs.
    • Identify and establish priority areas.
    • Identify and prioritize project recommendations.
    • Monitor the plan to needs for further updates.

The wildland urban interface, commonly called the WUI, can be defined as an area where development and wildland fuels meet. Additionally, there are other types of interface, known as the occluded zone and intermix. The occluded zone includes areas where there are homes surrounding areas with native vegetation. An intermix area is where structures are scattered throughout a wildland area where the cover of continuous vegetation is often greater than the cover by human development.

CWPPs help prepare communities for wildfire. If your community is located in or near the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and there is a demonstrated wildfire risk, a CWPP can be excellent tool to gain community support to raise awareness about wildfire threat and gain support to mitigate hazards.

Communities benefit from a CWPP by learning about how to be more prepared for wildfire. Additionally, the CWPP can influence where and how state, federal, and local monies are spent on hazardous fuels reduction. Communities with CWPPs can compete for public funding to implement hazardous fuels reduction projects. Through this process, communities can work cooperatively with technical and public safety experts to address wildfire hazards in their communities.

Afterall, this is a community plan – we want to hear about your concerns, what actions you are willing to take to reduce your risk, and how you think Boulder County can better assist you in becoming more prepared for wildfire. Citizens are encouraged to attend public community engagement meetings and open houses and to review the information and products that are disseminated throughout the project. Additionally, any questions and comments can be submitted to the Boulder County CWPP core team lead, Meg Halford.

  • In partnership with other local (City of Boulder and Mountain View FPD) CWPP efforts in progress at the same time as the Boulder County CWPP update, eight (8) Community Engagement Zones have been identified. Please attend a public meeting to participate in interactive mapping exercises, round tables, and input activities. This input will be analyzed and integrated into the CWPP. Meetings will be posted on our Events Calendar.
  • Fill out the Community Wildfire Protection Plan Public Survey.
  • The County and the CWPP core team is developing a plan to reach underserved communities. Please give us your feedback on this topic throughout this process.
  • During the Public Review period of the draft CWPP (this will be advertised widely), please review the plan and leave your comments.

The Boulder County CWPP will be an umbrella plan that will provide information and support local-level CWPPs. The Boulder County CWPP will include a county-wide wildfire risk-hazard assessment, county-wide community base maps, and a broad overview of the county’s wildfire suppression capabilities. 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 at a localized level for their community, area, or HOA.

Boulder County Parks and Open Space own approximately 75,800 acres of open space and approximately 39,500 acres are privately owned under conservation easements. The City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks owns approximately 45,000 acres. All acres stated here encompass both forest and grasslands/plains lands. Visit your local municipalities open space website to find how many open space acres they manage. Each entity is responsible for managing their open spaces for multi-use and benefits such as recreation, wildlife habitat, forest and grassland management, noxious weed control and forest and grasslands ecosystem health. Search for specific Boulder County open space landownership on the Boulder County Assessor’s Office Property Search database.

CWPP Maps

  • Interactive Story Map – Recent Boulder County fires including links to videos, websites, PDFs, and other interactive maps.
  • Recent History Map – Wildfires that have occurred in our region since the 2011 CWPP was published.

Community Wildfire Protection Plan Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)?

  • A living wildfire document for planning and implementation.
  • As a County level CWPP, the CWPP acts as an “umbrella” for other local CWPP planning efforts in the county.
  • Empowers communities and local fire protection districts to organize, plan, & take action to enhance fire resistance & protection.
  • Identifies the wildland fire risks of wildland urban interface (WUI).
  • Identifies strategies to reduce the risks to lives, homes and critical infrastructure.
  • Helps to meet the criteria of state, federal, and local grant programs for potential funding to implement projects identified and prioritized in the CWPP.

What a CWPP is Not?

  • A regulatory document.
  • A document that creates policy.
  • Legally binding.
  • A comprehensive scientific report.

What Are the Benefits of a CWPP?

A CWPP has two main functions. First, to identify and prioritize fuel reduction treatments needed in the local area and outline methods for addressing these. And second, to make recommendations for measures that reduce structural ignitability.

Additional benefits include addressing community concerns regarding wildland fire risk. The CWPP provides additional information for the community regarding the risk from wildland fuels, actions residents can take to keep their homes safe, and preparedness actions that can be taken year-round.

Why is Boulder County Updating the Existing CWPP?

Boulder County is updating their 2011 CWPP in 2023, with a target completion date of summer 2024. We have entered a new era of climate-driven wildfires. While it’s been established that all of Boulder County faced risk from wildland fire, the 2021 Marshall Fire, the most destructive in Colorado history, brought that fact home to our eastern communities. It demonstrated that the threats and impacts from these more intense wildfires have expanded beyond the foothills and mountains. In 2020, Colorado experienced the three largest wildfires in the state’s history, which produced an almost unimaginable amount of damage.

The update to the CWPP will identify and address threats posed by wildfire to Boulder County residents’ lives, livelihoods, and property that are caused by a host of factors, including 1) unhealthy, fire-prone forests; 2) climate change, which has led to increased temperatures and prolonged droughts that are drying out forest and grassland fuels; and 3) more people living and recreating in the Wildland Urban Interface. Stakeholders, communities, and managers will be able to use the CWPP as a tool to implement action and projects on the ground that are identified in the CWPP. The CWPP will also contain the latest information on defensible space and other mitigation efforts residents can use for their properties and homes, as this information has been updated since the 2011 CWPP was developed.

How is the Development of the CWPP Being Funded?

In April 2023, the Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting wildfire team applied for and was awarded a Colorado State Forest Service Incentives for Local Government (ILG) grant and a Colorado State Forest Service Healthy Forests and Vibrant Act (HFVA) grant to help fund hiring a professional consultant to conduct a county wide wildland fire risk assessment, facilitate community engagement events and develop the CWPP.

What Are the Minimum Standards Required in a CWPP?

A CWPP can vary in scope, scale, and detail, but must meet three minimum requirements for their contents and adoption per the Healthy Forests Restoration Act and the State of Colorado. These requirements include:

  • Collaboration – A CWPP must be collaboratively developed. Local and state officials must meaningfully involve nongovernmental stakeholders and federal agencies that manage land in the vicinity of the community.
  • Prioritized Fuel Reduction – A CWPP must identify and prioritize areas for hazardous fuel reduction treatments on both federal and nonfederal land and recommend the types and methods of treatment that, if completed, would reduce the risk to the community.
  • Treatment of Structural Ignitability – A CWPP must recommend measures that homeowners and communities can take to reduce the ignitability of structures throughout the plan area.

What is the Process the County Will Take to Develop the CWPP?

  • Collaborative process.
  • Include key stakeholders and partners.
  • Engage residents and communities through Community Engagement events, meetings, and an online public survey.
  • Use targeted, cross-jurisdictional, regional approaches to best leverage resources.
  • Incorporate a flexible and adaptive management process that accommodates a wide variety of county/community needs for forested and grassland wildland urban interfaces (WUI) that will:
    • Identify wildfire potential risks to communities and critical infrastructure.
    • Identify gaps and needs.
    • Identify and establish priorities priority areas
    • Identify and prioritize action items and projects.
    • Develop and implement projects and action items identified in the CWPP.
    • Monitor and update the plan to keep it relevant as a working document.

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. An example of this is the southern part of the City of Boulder, where the built environment ends adjacent to the forested areas. However, there are other types of interface, known as the occluded zone and intermix. The occluded zone includes areas where there are homes surrounding areas with native vegetation. Think of it like a park in a subdivision, but instead of swings and playgrounds, the park is kept in a more native state, with grasses, pine trees, and shrubs. The intermix is represented in many areas of western Boulder County, where there are homes with forested land between them.

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 wildfire. A CWPP can influence where and how state, federal and local 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?

After all, this is a community plan – we want to hear about your concerns, what actions you are willing to take to reduce your risk, and how you think Boulder County can better assist you in becoming more prepared for wildfire. Citizens are encouraged to attend public community engagement meetings and open houses 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 CWPP core team at mhalford@bouldercounty.org

How Do I Get Involved in the Boulder County CWPP Process?

  • In partnership with other local (City of Boulder and Mountain View FPD) CWPP efforts in progress at the same time as the BC CWPP update, eight (8) Community Engagement Zones have been identified. All zones were delineated using fire protection districts to ensure all communities, municipalities and stakeholders can attend a community engagement event in their area to participate in interactive mapping exercises, round tables, and input activities. This input will be analyzed and integrated into the CWPP’s Gaps, Priorities and Needs section and subsequently, the Action Items and Projects section.
  • A public online survey will also be available on the Community Planning and
  • Permitting CWPP website to access and complete over a period of two months.
  • The county and the CWPP core team is developing a plan to reach underserved communities. We will, offer CWPP outreach materials. The public survey will be available in Spanish, and we are working to ensure people with disabilities have equal opportunity to attend public meetings and/or take the online survey.

If Boulder County Has a CWPP Does My Smaller Community Need Another Plan?

The Boulder County CWPP will be an umbrella plan that will provide information and support local-level CWPPs. The Boulder County CWPP will include a county-wide wildfire hazard assessment, county-wide community base maps, and a broad overview of the county’s wildfire suppression capabilities. 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 at a localized level for their community, area, or HOA.

Who Owns Open Space Lands?

Boulder County Parks & Open Space own approximately 75,800 acres of open space and approximately 39,500 acres are privately owned under conservation easements. The City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks owns approximately 45,000 acres. All acres stated here encompass both forest and grasslands/plains lands. Visit your local municipality’s open space website to find how many open space acres they manage. Each entity is responsible for managing their open spaces for multi-use and benefits such as recreation, wildlife habitat, forest and grassland management, noxious weed control and forest and grasslands ecosystem health.

Events Calendar

Boulder County Community CWPP’s

  • Boulder County (2011) **Currently updating
  • Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District (2006)
  • Boulder Rural Fire Protection District (2007)
  • Boulder West Wildfire Authority **(2023)
  • Fourmile Fire Protection District
  • Gold Hill Fire Protection District
  • Sugarloaf Fire Protection District
  • Sunshine Fire Protection District
  • City of Boulder (2007) **Currently updating
  • Coal Creek Canyon Fire Protection District (2008) (listed under Jefferson County on CSFS website) **Currently updating
  • Lefthand Fire Protection District (2015)
  • Lyons Fire Protection District (2011)
  • Nederland Fire Protection District (2011) **Currently updating
  • Mountain View Fire Protection District (2010) (formerly Rocky Mountain Fire Protection District) **Currently updating
  • Pinewood Springs (2010) (listed under Larimer County on CSFS website)

To learn more about the County’s 2011 CWPP or Boulder County fire protection districts’ individual CWPP’s, visit Colorado State Forest Service – Boulder County Protection District CWPP, scroll to the tab “View Colorado CWPP’s” then scroll to “Boulder”.

Contact Us

Wildfire Mitigation

Email: wildfiremitigation@bouldercounty.gov
Main: 303-441-1420

Courthouse Annex Building

2045 13th St.
Boulder, CO 80302

Hours

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday
Map and Directions

Mailing Address

Community Planning & Permitting
Wildfire Mitigation
PO Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306
Community Planning & Permitting website