Firewise is a program of the National Fire Protection Association specifically concerned with wildfire safety. Sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters, Firewise works for all of us by teaching communities how to adapt their lives to wildfire and cooperate with their neighbors in reaching that goal.
October 20, 2019
We have reason for celebration today since Majors Ranch has just been awarded a grant by Huerfano County that will allow us to mitigate for safe evacuation routes within our development along Majors Ranch Property Owners Association’s 75 foot right of way. The grant was applied for by Majors Ranch Firewise.
The amount of the Aim Grant is $7046.25 with 75% of this coming from the County’s AIM funds and a 25% match coming from a motion voted on by the membership at the annual meeting.
It is important to note that this does not mean clear cutting within the right of way but rather reducing the fuels alongside the road so that any fire near the road will be such that the flame length will not inhibit the safe passage of evacuating residents or responding firefighters. This will mean reducing the density of fuels where threatening amounts of vegetation crowd the roadway and removing the ladder fuels / lower branches of trees. Ideally what remains is fuel for grass fires only (short flame length) thereby also creating a zone that the firefighters can defend.
Work will begin in the next few weeks with the most dangerous areas being treated first, namely Cedar Ridge/ Stonewall followed by Black Hills Drive.
Majors Ranch Firewise
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions on in place October 15, 2019
As of October 15, 2019, by order of he Huerfano County Board of Commissioners, Huerfano County has been placed under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. These Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in place until further notice.
The following acts are hereby prohibited on public and private lands, roads, and trails, as described herein:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire of campfire except a fire within a permanent constructed fire grate in a developed campground.
-  Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 10 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
-  Sales, possessing, discharging, or use of any type of fireworks or other pyrotechnic device, to include sparklers. This order does not differentiate between lawful use, and careless/negligent user of fireworks, but prohibits all fireworks activity and use of both public and private lands.
-  Operating a chainsaw, blasting, welding, or other activities which generate flame or flammable material for any purpose other than mitigation or recovery work. Those engaged in permitted mitigation or recovery work must have fire suppression equipment or hand.  For example: Chemical fire extinguisher, shovels, spark arrester, etc.
Mitigation Activity on MRPOA's Private Roads
Consistent with the Majors Ranch Property Owners Association Board's responsibility for our private roads, there will be mitigation activity conducted by Firewise along these roads within the 75' Right of Way (37.5 either side of the road center) over which the Board has responsibility.  The work will be conducted as funding through grants becomes available and roads fees are allocated with the goal of providing safe evacuation routes during a wildfire.
Firewise News # 5
Thinning to meet Colorado State Forest Service Defensible Space Mitigation Standards
•Wildfires will follow the path of least resistance, aka, densest areas of vegetation. Most pinon-juniper (PJ) forests are composed of continuous fuel; there are no spaces or openings within the tree canopy, there are minimal natural breaks that would slow a fire down.
•We do not have the ability to stop a wildfire; we are trying to manipulate the direction of the fire with our thinning/management actions. We are trying to have the fire move around the area of work/thinning.
•Creating a defensible space does not guarantee that your home will survive a wildfire. It simply creates a space where firefighters may be able to safely conduct firefighting actions or a zone where the fire does not have direct access to your structures.
•The goal of thinning is to create a mosaic pattern within the trees to break up the continuity of the fuel. •Our goal with thinning is to make the fire work to get from tree clump to tree clump.
•A mosaic pattern is a clump of trees varying between 2 to 5 trees. The size of the clump depends of the size, health, and location of the trees. Location can refer to the amount of slope and distance from any structures. The minimum space between individual trees is 15 feet and the amount of space should increase with larger clumps and/or larger trees. The space will also increase if the slope where the clump is growing on becomes steeper.
•A mosaic pattern does NOT have to be one tree, space, one tree, space, etc. (like a checker board of trees).
•A clump of 2-5 trees will have more space between clumps than the space between individual trees. •Tree spacing is from the tips of the tree’s branches at the widest part of the tree. There should be 15+ feet between tips of the tree branches between clumps. Spacing is NOT from the tree trunk or top of the tree.
•Wildfire in western Colorado is dependent on wind. No wind = the fire will have limited movement. With wind, the fire will be pushed across the landscape until the wind dies down or changes direction. •Slope has a strong effect on wildfire, fire moves uphill much faster than on flat ground or downhill. This is because the heat of the fire pre-heats the vegetation up slope and dries it out making it more combustible.
•Tree pruning is not as important in PJ forests as in fir, pine, or spruce forests. Pruning trees that are only 10 feet tall can make for funny looking trees. The more important factor in PJ is tree spacing where the fire has to ‘work’ to move from tree clump to tree clump and removing any shrubs beneath the tree crown.
•Pruning should be done to remove dead branches or branches that are touching/growing towards the ground.
•Removing shrubs that are growing beneath PJ trees is highly recommended, this reduces the overall fuel load that is available to the fire. Shrubs are great in open areas.
•It is NOT recommended to prune live branches, or remove pinon or juniper trees between April and October. The pinon Ips bark beetle is active in western Colorado. Any thinning activity that starts the flow of sap in the summer months can attract the bark beetle to your property. It is OK to remove dead trees and dead branches at any time during the year.
•More information on the Ips beetles can be found on Fact Sheet No. 5.558 located on the Colorado State University Extension website,
A Heads Up!
(First posted February 2019)
There is a Money Saving opportunity being discussed for those who want to make their homes SAFER FOR WILDFIRES.
Firewise has been told that discussions at the Huerfano County Government level are centering on the possibility of providing matching grant dollars for homeowners to create a Defensible Perimeter around their home in Majors Ranch.
Details are being established but at present we hear this:
  1. The number of grants will be limited
  2. They will be awarded on a First Come/First Served basis
  3. The match will be 50/50, e.g., for a $500 project, you pay $250 - the match is $250.  The maximum amount has not been determined
  4. You will line up your own mitigation contractor and have a written estimate so do that NOW and be ready to apply.
What is a Defensible Perimeter/Home Ignition Zone?
Paste this link into your browser:
Need a Mitigation Contractor?
Scroll down to Firewise News #2 on this page, for a full list of Wildfire Mitigation Contractors in our area.  
Firewise will provide more details when we have them but Be Ready with your estimates because funds will be limited.
Firewise News (First posted January 2019)
Congratulations on Your 2018 Firewise Effort !
Based on the current numbers for the 2018 Majors Ranch Firewise effort, we have removed a gigantic 846 cubic yards of vegetation. That is phenomenal!
At the same time we have surpassed our Firewise risk reduction goal by a factor of 21 which translates to a credit of a dollar/ sweat equity Investment of $30,686.95.
What this means is that while Firewise asks of us a commitment to risk reduction measured over a year’s time in either hours worked- sweat equity- or dollars spent- you have blown those goals out of the water.
Remember! With 48% of the homes in the Ranch with a defensible perimeter, every additional home that is added to this list also adds 1.5% to this number.
Congratulations!.....and keep on mitigating!
When you undertake a risk reduction project, make sure it gets reported as a part of our Firewise effort. The numbers don’t have to be much more than a guesstimate.
When did you do the work?, approximately
How much vegetation did you remove? For example, would your slash fill up a full sized pickup truck? That would be approximately 6 cubic yards.
A large tandem axle dump truck will hold 12 cubic yards.
How much did you spend? Nothing, that’s OK since we get credited for hours too. How many hours?
What did you do to harden your home against flying embers and direct contact with the fire? Please tell us the hours or the dollar amount.
Email the information to Joe Malone at
Remember, whether you are a property owner with a home or a property owner without a home, we all have an obligation to be good stewards of the land and help protect our neighbors by protecting our land.
We are all in this together.
Thank you all for making Majors Ranch safer!

Before - Black Hawk Ranch 11/2018
After 11/2018 
Forestry Mulching by CHD Construction, Chris Dotter
Firewise News # 1
It should come a no surprise that after last summer’s Spring Fire there has been an increased interest in Pre and Post –fire mitigation tactics as well as the activities of the Major’s Ranch Firewise Committee.
Did you know?
- That in spite of the loss of pinon and juniper trees in the western reaches of the Ranch, the Gambel oak shrubs are rapidly re-establishing themselves. However, this is a good news/ bad news situation if those shrubs come to dominate your landscape.
- That the months of November through January are considered to be the prime months for fire mitigation simply because mitigated pinon trees and the slash that mitigation produces are far less likely attract the Ips Beetle during that time period which translates into less work for the homeowner.
If you would like to have one of your neighbors, a Firewise volunteer, visit with you at your site and discuss the problem of the rapid recovery of Gambel oak  or any other aspect of your good neighbor mitigation efforts, please, just let us know at either of the two addresses below.
We are here to help.
Gerry Benesky:
Joe Malone:
Firewise News # 2
Did You Know?
As was mentioned in our last Firewise communication, the upcoming months of November through January are an excellent time to mitigate any species of tree but especially your pinions. For much of the year, whether your pinon mitigation includes thinning stands by removing entire trees or simply removing lower branches to eliminate ladder fuels, you can induce stress in both the trees and slash which can attract the Ips Beetle and begin a cycle of tree killing disease. The exceptions to this are the months of November through January where, because of the lower temperatures, the Ips are far less likely to invade your work saving you lots of effort in either spraying the trees or having to dispose of, or spray the slash.
Below is a list of contractors who offer different types of mitigation services. You would be correct to assume that after the Spring Fire they are quite busy. So, we encourage you to call them early and get on their schedule.
The presence of their name on the list does not necessarily represent an endorsement of their work.
Any questions? We’re here to help;
Gerry Benesky:
Joe Malone:
Wildfire Mitigation Contractors
CHD Construction
    Chris Dotter (719) 989-7460
     In-place, forestry mulching leaving a groomed surface
Colorado State Forest Service
    Derek Sokoloski   (719) 742-3588
    Forest Health assessments and treatment, Fuel reduction services.

ForestWise, LLC
    Scott and Mary Canda (719) 846-2057 P.O. box 521 Aguilar, CO 81020
    Firewood, Tree Thinning, Reclamation, Wood Products

H & H Forestry
    Tyler and Nace Huff (719) 250-1108
    Forestry Mulcher service, Slash hauling, Tree service

RAI Enterprises
    Robert Ingoldby (719) 859-3799 or (719) 846-3956
    Specialty Tree removal, Slash Hauling, Equipment operator
Wayne Arnold Excavating
    Wayne Arnold (719)742-5441 or (719)989-1438
     Fire mitigation and mulching of slash piles
Firewise News # 3
Did you know?
A true story:
As part of the support Huerfano County received in the aftermath of the Spring Creek Fire a meeting was organized by the Community Mitigation Assistance Team whose purpose was to help communities digest what has happened to them as a result of a fire and how best to prepare for the next fire.
During a visit to Majors Ranch, while driving through our community and discussing our future with two members of that team- both from Colorado; one a professional wild land firefighter and the other an eminently successful Firewise leader- we came to a private gate. It was not unlike many entrances here in Majors Ranch.
Jeremy, the driver, turned the engine off, turned to us and spoke:
“ If I’m sitting here in the big red truck (full sized Class III fire truck used in fighting structural fires) with responsibility for the lives of the 5 firefighters with me, I have to make a decision. Look around; there are no house numbers, there’s no house to be seen, and there’s a wall of vegetation on either side of the driveway. Now, for me as the crew leader, there are two choices:
IF there is time, I will have one of my crew walk down the driveway to see IF it is safe for my men and my equipment and also to see IF there is a house there and IF that house can be defended.
IF there is NO time, because the fire is close and threatening, and in the absence of any other information, that’s when I earn my pay. I will and must decide to protect the lives of my men and the equipment, turn around and leave this questionable location, and move to a home I KNOW we can defend.”
More than anything I learned as a result of this summer’s fire, this lesson from that moment impacted me more than any other.
My house has a defensible perimeter.
A reflective house number marks my gate.
BUT, the view down my driveway was very limited and many branches were clearly too close to its edge or hanging over it. Add to that a few Rabbitbrush and a several seedlings that will eventually become a problem and I realized that an obvious fire threat had been overlooked.
I don’t want the driver of a fire truck to have to pause at my gate and then make the decision to turn around when that time comes.
This process of structural triage used to be called Red Rock/ Green Rock (Unsafe-don’t go / Safe-go). Today tape is used to the same purpose.
You don’t want either red tape or red rocks at your gate.
Stand at the entrance to your driveway preferably about sunset when the light begins to fail. Imagine you are a crew chief at the wheel of a full sized crew cab fire truck which just arrived and is now sitting at idle where you stand. The men and women in that truck are here to do their job - saving lives and homes.
Picture that a wall of flame now runs all along CR 520; you smell the smoke as a strong breeze blows  from the west. Many individual trees in Phase 2 are already torching so you sense that there isn’t much time. Now you can see the smoke. You think to yourself…. there are just too many trees.
No light comes from your house; your family evacuated yesterday. But the truck’s headlights illuminating your driveway tell the crew what they need to know……………. .….                               What do they reveal?
What does the crew chief decide?
Now is when you get to write the rest of this story.
Is your driveway a hazard or does it offer safe passage for you leaving and this crew arriving?
Mitigation is hard work. Cleaning up a house and memories destroyed by fire is sad, miserable work.
Firewise Committee, Majors Ranch
Questions?? We are here to help.
Gerry Benesky:
Joe Malone:
Driveway Address Markers
There will come a time when a Firefighter, an EMT, or a Sheriff will be looking for an address
at the entrance to your driveway………
Order yours now!
Driveway Address Markers are surest way for First Responders find your home.
To print the order form from this website.
Go to Documents/ Firewise/Address Markers.
100% of the proceeds benefit the LaVeta Fire Department and deliveries will be made
in Huerfano County by Majors Ranch Firewise.
Firewise News # 4
Firewise as part of Majors Ranch
The Firewise USA® is a organization of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It is a recognition program that is works in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters. The program provides a framework for neighbors to reduce wildfire risks by cooperating to meet fire risk reduction goals each year.
The annual criteria is designed to energize and engage residents living in wildfire prone areas with a plan and common sense actions that can increase the chances of homes surviving a wildfire, while also making it safer for firefighters. When neighbors prioritize their efforts and understand how homes and property are impacted during a wildfire they are beginning their journey to becoming a fire adapted community.
There are no monetary costs to participate in the Firewise, however residents must demonstrate their risk reduction commitment by annually documenting their achievements and investment at the equivalent of one volunteer hour per residential dwelling unit. That includes work at individual homes, outbuildings and areas throughout the community including:
Removing combustible materials completely within 30 feet of structures while mitigating out to 100 feet.
Removing tall plants surrounding structures and placing non flammable gravel fire barriers around buildings
making structures more fire resistant, e.g., stucco, metal or concrete fiber board siding and metal roofs
cutting back trees and shrubs from the sides of roads including your driveway. 
The investment can be achieved through actual dollar costs or time and work spent in sweat equity which residents volunteer in order to complete their plan. In support of these efforts, Firewise provides educational courses and materials, technical expertise and other resources to the community.