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Breckenridge - Homeowners in Breckenridge have money growing around their houses and may not even know it.

At the Red, White and Blue Fire Department in Breckenridge firefighters like Captain Matthew Benedict are battling a blaze long before the first flames show up.

He and others are taking part in a new program aimed at mitigating wildfires by reducing hazardous trees and paying homeowners to help.

"Our urban interface is as hazardous as it's ever been," said Benedict.

Along with the town and Breckenridge Police Department, they have adopted a new plan. Sergeant Matthew Collver with Breckenridge Police says it's pretty unique.

"It took a little brain storming," said Collver.

They're encouraging homeowners to build a buffer between their home and the forest by cutting down hazardous trees. Homeowners then get paid for the trees removed.

"So if someone is thinking about building that defensible space, hopefully the incentive with encourage them to do it this summer," said Collver.

The first step for homeowners is to get their property inspected. Trees that are marked hazardous become money trees ripe for the picking. Once cut down and removed the town of Breck will give the homeowner money in return for the trouble.

"Ten dollars a tree up to $200 per property for people who complete defensible space," said Collver.

It's plan put into action as more homes are built in forested areas. The town of Breck hopes the program will help protect property and lives.

"Creating that noncombustible area in between your house and the environment around your house is really important, and we are getting some great data from all the fires on the Front Range in the last few years," said Benedict.

You can learn more about the Breck tree program at their website: www.townofbreckenridge.com/firemitigation

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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