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Marshall Fire debris removal could begin in 2-4 weeks

County leaders and the contractor provided more information about the debris removal program at a meeting Tuesday evening.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo — Debris removal after the Marshall Fire could begin in two to four weeks, the project's operations manager said at a community meeting Tuesday.

Boulder County said it will take about four months to finish the project. If crews start removing debris from properties in April, that could push the timeline to sometime in August. 

A more detailed schedule will be published later this week, the county said.

According to Jeff Maxwell, Boulder County's Director of Public Works, the county had to prioritize neighborhoods based on FEMA's guidelines. Population density, environmental justice issues (such as predominantly minority neighborhoods and lower income neighborhoods), and air quality are some of the criteria FEMA asks communities to consider when prioritizing which areas will be cleared first. 

Maxwell said when creating the schedule, the county also accounted for areas presenting runoff issues.

DRC Emergency Services will be responsible for completing debris removal work for the more than 800 property owners who have opted into the program in Louisville, Superior and unincorporated Boulder County.

People can opt in or opt out of the program until crews start work in their neighborhood. Crews can help remove a number of things, including foundations, driveways and trees.

Before work starts, several steps need to take place. DRC will now begin individual site inspections and review homeowner requests for items to preserve. Property owners will be notified in advance before crews are expected to arrive.

The county believes it will take four months to remove debris from every property.

Hundreds of people tuned into the community meeting on Tuesday. Many questions focused on safety. To protect people still living in these neighborhoods, DRC said it will constantly spray water on properties to keep particulates from going into the air.

The overall cost of the program is about $60 million. Participating property owners who are covered by homeowners insurance will give the county the part of their payout that is dedicated to debris removal. 

On Monday, a judge dismissed a lawsuit over the debris removal program, saying the group that brought the suit has no standing to file its claims.

The lawsuit was filed in February by Demanding Integrity In Government Spending (DIGS). The newly-formed nonprofit claimed Boulder County broke open meetings laws and wasn't transparent when it picked a contractor to remove debris as part of its Private Property Debris Removal program.

A judge found DIGS had no standing to file its claims because it had no connection to Boulder County. 

The lawsuit had originally asked a judge to direct the county to rebid the debris removal contract. Earlier this month, DIGS said it would no longer ask for such an order. That move cleared the county to approve the contract with DRC, which it did on March 22.

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