GENESEE, Colo. – The Genesee Foundation – one of only nine communities nationally that have been engaged in the Firewise Communities/USA® national program since its inception in 2002 – was recently recognized for taking ongoing actions in preparing homes for the threat of wildfire. The 15-year Firewise Community/USA award recognition demonstrates the community’s persistence and commitment to reducing their wildfire risk, educating their neighbors and neighboring communities about Firewise practices, and maintaining the hard work they have accomplished over time.
The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) Golden District Forester and the Colorado Firewise liaison presented the recognition award to the Genesee Foundation, with special recognition to the Genesee Fire & Safety Committee (GFSC) and the Genesee Ecosystem Management (GEM) Committee for their work spearheading the community’s Firewise efforts.
“Since the early 1990s, the Genesee Foundation recognized how important it is for neighbors to work together to reduce wildfire risks,” said Allen Gallamore, district forester for the CSFS Golden District. “Through its enduring efforts, this community provides a clear example of what it means to be a successful Firewise Community.”
Since its Firewise Communities/USA recognition in 2002, the Genesee Foundation community has accomplished a significant amount of work to reduce wildfire risk. Accomplishments include:
- investing over $1 million in forest management and fire mitigation activities
- selectively thinning over 700 acres of Genesee open space for fire mitigation and to improve forest health
- implementing defensible space plans on approximately 150 private properties and approximately 95% of residents have done some defensible space work
- hosting 19 community chipping events to help residents remove branches, trees and pine needles to encourage fire mitigation activities around homes
- working to educate residents of their responsibilities when it comes to living in the wildland-urban interface.
The accomplishments of the Genesee Foundation community would not have been possible without the dedication and support of Ryan Babcock, former Genesee Foundation Open Space Manager and current training chief for Genesee Fire Rescue. Babcock’s education and assistance to Genesee truly spearheaded the Firewise Communities/USA recognition effort.
“Genesee is filled with forward-thinking, responsible and intelligent residents who place a high value on their property and open space,” said Babcock. “The fact that we have reached 15 years as a Firewise Community is a reflection of the dedication Genesee has for being responsible stewards of this beautiful fire-adapted ecosystem where its residents live and recreate. Even with all the work we have done over the past 15 years and beyond as a Firewise Community, it has taken more than 100 years of fire exclusion and little management for our Front Range forests to reach the state they are in today. These areas are now primed for large wildfire events and it will take many more years of dedication to correct this imbalance. So, with that said, 15 years as a Firewise Community is a good start.”
Nancy Balter, a member of the GFSC, was presented the 15-year Firewise Community/USA recognition award along with Babcock, Genesee Foundation Board President Jeff Chopin, and Linda Colville, the Chair of the GEM Committee.
During the presentation, Balter emphasized the importance of participating in the Firewise Communities/USA program to reduce Genesee’s wildfire risk.
“Genesee is a community built in the wildland-urban interface and, like many such communities that value the forest in which we have built our houses, we have come to understand that the overgrowth of trees surrounding our homes leads not only to an unhealthy forest, but also to a risk of wildfire destroying our homes,” said Balter. “Through education efforts utilizing the materials provided by Firewise and the Colorado State Forest Service, our residents understand that by creating defensible space around their homes, they will help our fire department defend their homes, and those around them, in the face of a wildfire.”
As a community, the Genesee Foundation residents also highly value their open space. The creation of the GEM Committee demonstrates how important protecting the surrounding forested land is to the community. The new Genesee Foundation Open Space Manager, Robert Elliott, will work with the community to help it continue to understand how to create resilient, healthy forests while implementing wildfire mitigation practices as a part of the Firewise Communities/USA program.
“The views, the wildlife, the hiking trails, and the overall ambiance are a big part of what makes Genesee special to us,” said Colville. “We want to protect and preserve that forested land and those meadows. We appreciate the structure and support provided by the Firewise program and want to continue work to keep Genesee a safe and wonderful place to live.”
Congratulations to the Genesee Foundation on achieving 15 years as a recognized Firewise Community/USA!