Wildfire Defensible Space

People are more frequently building homes in areas prone to wildfire that are difficult to defend. Saving real estate from wildfires is an expensive and sometimes dangerous proposition. Property owners have a role and responsibility to prepare their properties in advance of a wildfire so fire fighters can more effectively defend communities. Fire fighters have learned that the two most significant factors affecting a property's ability to survive a wildfire are the roof and defensible space around a home.

Wildfire mitigation is the process of strategically reducing the fuel load around a structure, so it has a better chance of surviving a wildfire so fire fighters can safely defend the property. Extra attention should be paid to the 30 feet around a structure creating a "Defensible Space."

In the case of a wildfire, prior preparation is just as important to the survival of life and property as what fire fighters do during the event. During an aggressive wildfire, the homes that will be easiest to defend—those that have mitigated fire hazards—will receive priority from fire fighters. Successful wildfire mitigation does not guarantee that there will be no fires, but it does help manage the fires that might occur.

Cordillera Wildfire Mitigation Program

Cordillera is located in the "Wildland Urban Interface" (WUI), where many wildfires occur. A wildfire hazard analysis of the Cordillera community identified hazard ratings for Cordillera neighborhoods that ranged from Extreme to Low. A large number of homes are located in neighborhoods rated high to extreme. In 2006, the Cordillera Property Owners Association (CPOA) passed a resolution that required all Cordillera property owners to address wildfire hazards and defensible space on their properties according to a five-year schedule. Upon completion of the five-year program, properties are required to maintain this work using the same five-year rotation. 


The first year of the maintenance cycle conducted by the CPOA took place in 2012. This five-year cycle started with the highest hazard neighborhoods and worked to the lower hazard neighborhoods. Each spring the Healthy Forest program schedules property inspections and assists property owners coordinate fire mitigation. 

Each year the CMD and CPOA sponsor projects to mitigate fire hazards adjacent to private property and along roads. More than 40,000 dead and dying Lodgepole pine trees were removed by Cordillera as part of the effort to protect Cordillera from a large-scale wildfire event.


Hot embers from wildfire sometimes travel miles. Embers landing on cedar shake roofs can start wildfires. Property owners with cedar shake roofs are encouraged to keep them clear of combustible debris such as pine needles and leaves. A convenient method to clear roofs of debris are leaf blowers. At the Ranch, Summit and Territories, cedar shake roofs were once required. In 2005, cedar shake roofs were prohibited in response to studies showing the dangers of shake roofs during a fire. Any work on an existing roof that will affect more than twenty-five percent of the roof will require the entire roof be replaced with non-cedar shake. 

Helpful Contacts

Property owners should contact Bill Wentworth, Healthy Forest Coordinator, to learn more about the requirements for wildfire mitigation. Wentworth can be reached at 970-306-3632 and can help locate property lines and explain the area's wildfire hazards.