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Teens help protect Boulder County homes from wildfires

Clearing fire fuels is physically demanding and can get expensive. A group of teenagers is helping homeowners get the work done.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo — It can be really challenging for homeowners to keep up with fire mitigation around their properties – both physically, and financially.

But a group of teenagers is helping Boulder County homeowners protect their property from future fires.

Boulder County Wildfire Partners has teamed up with Teens, Inc – Lincoln Hill Team Works Program to conduct wildfire mitigation work at 10 properties this summer. The teenagers, through the youth program, earn money for the work and the county gets extra hands for a very physical job.

“They are incredibly hardworking crews,” said Mary County, with Boulder County’s Wildfire Partners.

“They understand the importance of the work we're doing. We’ve allowed people to keep their home insurance. Someone got certified and was able to maintain their home insurance, otherwise they would have lost it within a year.”

The program can help homeowners with financial needs.

Some of the young workers live in Boulder County and understand the risk to rural areas. Oren Dutton is 18 years old and grew up in Nederland.

“ I think fire’s been really close to my community,” he said. “Fire mitigation, that specific type of work is very near and dear to me. I get a lot of joy out of helping others who maybe can’t do the work themselves.”

Others, like 18-year old Sumehra Alexander, grew up in the metro area. This is all new.

“I just joined because I wanted to be outside, and being in the metro you don’t really get to be around nature that much. This was, like, the best opportunity to introduce myself into nature and being outside more,” Alexander said. “I think the best part is having a different crew every year. I think its cool to meet different people, and, especially people from rural areas… always doing things like this, and we don’t know anything about this.”

This week, the crew cleared fuels from a property in Boulder County – logs and juniper and needles. It was the program’s 10th property this summer.

The teenagers trimmed grasses and limbed trees. Sander said the county had previously done some fire mitigation work on the property, but the young people were helping with additional work.

When asked what his favorite part of the job was, Dutton answered:

“Meeting the homeowner and seeing how excited she is about the work we're doing, and thankful.”


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