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Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax Programs
Photo of forest during soft sunset and smouldering after wildfire

Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax Programs

Resolution and Language

On August 4, 2022, the Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to put forward a ballot measure, which would introduce a new sales and use tax to fund wildfire mitigation programs and projects. In November 2022, Boulder County voters approved wildfire mitigation ballot measure 1A with 72% of the vote.

The ballot measure established a 0.1% countywide sales and use tax for the purpose of funding countywide wildfire mitigation efforts to proactively address the increasing risk of climate-driven wildfires. The tax will fund work in two programmatic areas:

  • Strategic forest and grassland management projects:
    • To reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
    • To protect drinking water supplies.
    • To create more resilient forest and grassland ecosystems.
  • Creating community resiliency:
    • Expand the Wildfire Partners program to serve residents of the east county.
    • To continue working in the west county preparing for wildfires.

View Resolution No. 2022-050 for the full text of the ballot measure, including recitals that provide background information.

View November 2022 Ballot Language.

Please note that a 0.1% tax is a penny on ten dollars.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax

Wildfire mitigation is action taken before a wildfire ignites to reduce its severity and negative impacts such as the destruction of homes. Managing forests, hardening homes, and creating defensible space are common wildfire mitigation strategies.

Action taken after a wildfire ignites – emergency notification, fire suppression and recovery programs is not wildfire mitigation. State law requires revenue generated by the new wildfire mitigation sales tax be spent only on wildfire mitigation as described in the ballot measure.

Boulder County’s Community Planning and Permitting Department (CP&P) will lead the implementation of the wildfire mitigation ballot measure. The Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department will assist with some components of the initiative. CP&P will seek advisement and peer review from internal and external stakeholders to help implement the wildfire mitigation funding.

  • Strategic forest and grassland management projects to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, protect drinking water and water supplies, and foster resilient ecosystems.
  • Community partnerships and programs to help residents prepare for wildfires, create defensible space around homes, make homes more fire resistant, and provide technical and financial assistance to homeowners.
  • Fire mitigation staffing.
  • Other projects and services to proactively address the increasing risk of climate-driven wildfires.

The eligibility criteria for accessing funding will be broad, and include, but not be limited to, cities and towns, non-profit organizations such watershed groups and youth corps, fire districts, collaborative partnerships, community groups and homeowners’ associations, conservation districts, and water districts. Boulder County will work closely with its partners (local governments, fire districts, scientists, community leaders, and residents) to select projects for funding. Boulder County Commissioners will have final decision-making authority over funding decisions.

Yes, Wildfire Partners, Boulder County’s wildfire mitigation program, was launched in 2014 and is a community partnership. The program provides homeowners with technical and financial assistance to prepare for wildfires, create defensible space, and make homes more fire resistant. To learn more, visit the Wildfire Partners website.

Boulder County will work together with all interested municipalities to offer Wildfire Partners or other community partnerships and programs to residents of incorporated cities and towns.

All residents of unincorporated Boulder County (all wildfire zones) will be eligible to participate in Wildfire Partners.

Wildfire mitigation can be expensive. Many homeowners need free technical support and financial assistance. Current federal and state grant funding cannot be used for home hardening. Wildfire Partners will develop a financial assistance program for qualified homeowners for home hardening.

Any wildfire mitigation project or service that is not a strategic forest and grassland management project or part of Wildfire Partners falls into this category. Potential examples include community forestry sort yards, chipping programs, and mitigation of commercial buildings, other structures or infrastructure that are not homes.

Between 2005 and 2011, 14 unique Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) were developed in Boulder County—13 local, fire district-level plans were written, and then, the countywide plan was developed. Some of these local CWPPs have been, or are in the process of being, updated. The Boulder County CWPP will be updated in 2023. Recommendations from these plans will help direct how the tax money is spent.

The 2023 CWPP update will be 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 will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders including local government, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), local fire protection districts, and community members to establish objectives through a collaborative process. The county and our partners will work together to identify and prioritize strategic projects within our forested and grassland communities for the CWPP.

The new county wildfire mitigation grant program will use this list of projects in the CWPP to help inform its funding decisions. The new county grant program will also look to leverage other local, state, and federal wildfire mitigation grant programs to increase the pace and scale of forest and grassland mitigation efforts throughout the county.

Community Surveys and Meetings

Boulder County held an open house on November 29, 2022 to obtain public input on the newly passed Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax. County staff collected input from an energetic and engaged group of attendees at the event. In addition to this open house, the county sought input on the ballot measure through an online survey. The county received 393 responses. The survey included four open-ended questions based on the structure of the ballot language. Respondents were able to provide as many ideas for future programs and projects as they wished. View the Wildfire Mitigation Public Input Survey responses.

Most of the suggestions from the open house and online survey are consistent with the activities discussed when the Boulder County Board of Commissioners placed this measure on the ballot in August 2022, including forest management, fuel breaks, prescribed fire, mowing, grazing, ditch management, home hardening, defensible space, education, and biomass disposal and utilization.

Some of the suggestions were not specific to wildfire mitigation and do not qualify for funding from the sales tax. These suggestions are considered part of wildfire response, emergency management, or recovery—not wildfire mitigation. These ideas included: additional firefighters, emergency water supply, aircraft, fire engines, emergency notifications, evacuation routes, early detection technology, burn bans, and post-fire recovery efforts.

One common suggestion was to fund the burying of power lines. This idea was not discussed when the ballot measure was created. At this time, the county has not decided whether Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax funding will be used for burying power lines.

The open house and online survey were the first steps by the county to engage the public in this ballot measure. Follow our Community Wildfire Protection Plan updates and check our Wildfire Mitigation Events Calendar for future surveys and meetings.

Current and Future Programs

Boulder County placed the sales and use tax on the ballot for the purpose of funding countywide wildfire mitigation efforts to proactively address the increasing risk of climate-driven wildfires. These efforts are focused on two programmatic areas: 1. strategic land management, and 2. community resiliency. Information on new programs will be posted as it becomes available.

Boulder County Strategic Fuels Mitigation Program

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Boulder County Strategic Fuels Mitigation Grant Program (SFMG), with the first cycle opening on October 30th, 2023.

The SFMG program provides cost-share funding through competitive grants to leverage other federal, state, and local funds to help reduce the risk of wildfire to people, property, and infrastructure throughout Boulder County. Funding is intended to promote forest, grassland, and watershed health through collaborative, large-scale projects. Funds are also available to support the development of new or updated Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP). For more information, please visit the SFMG webpage.

A New Grant Program for Strategic Forest and Grassland Management Projects

Boulder County is developing a new grant program using the Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax revenue to conduct strategic forest and grassland management projects using fireshed partnerships. The goals include reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, protecting drinking water supplies, and creating more resilient forest and grassland ecosystems.

Working with our partners, Boulder County has established a grant advisory committee to help develop the program. The committee includes:

  • 2 members of Boulder County Fire Protection Districts (representing eastern and western areas in the county)
  • 1 member of Boulder County Parks and Open Space
  • 1 member of City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
  • 1 member of United States Forest Service (Boulder Ranger District)
  • 1 member of Colorado Department of Natural Resources
  • 2 members of Colorado State Forest Service
  • 1 member of a non-governmental organization
  • 1 member of Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting Department’s Wildfire Mitigation Team

The wildfire mitigation grant advisory committee is currently developing grant processes which include eligibility criteria, application processes, guidelines, and review and scoring processes. The county grant program is intended to act as a cost-share or leveraging program to other existing state, federal, and local grants.

Wildfire Partners

Wildfire Partners is Boulder County’s wildfire mitigation program. Wildfire Partners helps homeownWildfire Partners logo squareers prepare their homes for wildfires by providing community partnerships, personalized technical assistance, and financial assistance. Prior to 2022, the program only operated in west Boulder County. With the passage of the Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax Wildfire Partners will be expanding to the east county.

Wildfire Partners Chipping Program

Wildfire Partners is currently re-designing the program in order to serve more Boulder County residents than in the past. The new program will be funded by several different sources including the Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax. For current information, view the Boulder County Community Chipping Program webpage.

Financial Assistance for Home Hardening

Providing financial incentives is a key component of the new Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax Program. However, it will take time to develop this part of the program. We expect to start offering financial assistance for home hardening in 2024.

Wildfire Partners in West Boulder County

In 2023, Wildfire Partners will continue to operate in west Boulder County as it has in past years using existing (non-1A) grant funding.

Wildfire Partners in East Boulder County

Wildfire Partners in east Boulder County is expected to look significantly different than it has in the west. It is expected to include many of the activities that took place in the early years of wildfire mitigation efforts in the western county, such as conducting community risk assessments, leading public awareness campaigns, attending community events, performing education and outreach, funding community chipping efforts, helping to create Firewise Communities, organizing Tour of Homes events, developing community wildfire protection plans, as well as conducting individual home assessments in targeted high-risk and high-needs communities.

In 2022, Boulder County completed the Wildfire Partners Plains Project to test our existing home assessment tools in the east. We received 242 applications for the pilot project and selected 100 participants who were disbursed across the unincorporated county as broadly as possible. We selected a diverse group of participants based on lot sizes, neighborhood types, and community risk factors like proximity to open space and ditches. This Plains Pilot Project was launched before ballot measure Wildfire Mitigation Tax was designed, and as a result, the pilot project was not intended to test potential uses of these new funds.

In 2023, Wildfire Partners staff will continue to seek input, meet with partners, and test different wildfire mitigation concepts and activities for future Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax funding. We will begin with outreach and education efforts and launch a public awareness campaign. Using grant 1A funds, we will develop phase 2 of the Plains Pilot Project based on lessons learned from phase 1.

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