Colorado Springs Fire Department and TwoCor Youth Corps. partner on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The annual national Wildlife Community Preparedness Day event is held on the first Saturday of May and was started to help raise wildfire awareness, promote collaboration and bring neighbors together to work on projects that can help protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities from future wildfire risk or current post-fire impacts.
This year, the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) saw Prep Day as an opportunity to continue its mitigation project that they had started with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo months earlier.
The zoo is a significant cultural site located in a forested hillside adjacent to neighborhoods like Broadmoor and Spires, which are considered high-risk wildfire areas. Throughout the years the tussock moth has infiltrated the forest and was killing trees in and around the zoo, creating an increasing amount of flammable vegetation and materials that can ignite quickly in a fire.
As a result, the CFSD Mitigation Crew and the zoo, which already had an existing working relationship for over a decade, reached out to TwoCor Youth Corps., a local youth coalition, and together they collaborated on a project to help address this growing problem. The mitigation project took a total of three days involving 25 participants from the three groups.
On the first day, CSFD cleared a lot of the dead vegetation in the area, performed the felling operations of the hazardous materials and prepared them for hauling. During the second day, the three participating groups assisted in dragging the stacked materials to the roadway for chipping. During the final day the CFSD placed the chipped materials into box trucks and provided them to the zoo. The zoo in turn utilized the recycled vegetation as bedding for the zoo’s animals!
In addition to their contributions to the project at hand, the young men and women from the TwoCor Youth learned about wildfire mitigation practices, including fire ecology and the effects of fire behavior on a mitigated property.
The CFSD was granted a funding award of $500 by State Farm, a supporter and partner of Prep Day, which provided a means to pay the TwoCor Youth Corps for their efforts in the wildfire mitigation project.