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National team makes recommendations to Grand County to be better prepared for future wildfires

The Community Mitigation Assistance Team released its report to local and federal partners on Wednesday.

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — This week a team in Grand County released its recommendations to make sure the community is better prepared for wildfires in the future. More than a year after the East Troublesome fire raced through the county, local leaders brought in a national team to help them figure out where to start.

The Community Mitigation Assistance Team (CMAT) said the county has to make better maps of where wildfire risk is the most severe and plan prevention work close to communities.

Coordination can be tricky with a patchwork of federal, state and private lands. That's why the team said communication is key.

"Some bring non-profit experience, some bring fire department or county level experience and we come together and we share our best practices," Pam Wilson, leader of CMAT said. 

The U.S. Forest Service can call this national group to help an area identify challenges and build long-term mitigation efforts. 

"This can be anything from how to build a partnership, starting a nonprofit," she said. "We often do a review of any existing mitigation programs they have."

One of the programs they're looking at is the non-profit Grand County Wildfire Council which started in 2015. They're an outreach group that focuses on prevention and preparedness. 

"They have got some programs in place and they didn't want to lose that momentum because everyone was sidetracked by recovery efforts," she said. 

Strong winds made the East Troublesome Fire spread fast, eventually burning hundreds of homes. Thousands of people were evacuated. 

CMAT is really focusing on local and federal partnerships to make sure they're working together efficiently because a big chunk of the land in Grady County is federally-owned.

"A lot of good work is going on but a lot of it is happening in silos where they are not collaborating with each other so we are giving some recommendations," Wilson said. 

The community is motivated to learn best practices to hopefully minimize the effects of another devastating wildfire. 

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