DENVER (CBS4) – Homeowners who want to do wildfire mitigation now have access to millions of dollars in matching funds from the state.

Months before the Black Forest Fire state lawmakers were already sounding an alarm.

“I think one of the things that got a little bit overlooked this session was the number of bills we had dealing with fire prevention and fire mitigation,” said Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Jefferson County said.

Kerr says wildfires will happen. The laws passed — more than a half dozen this year — are focused on lessening their intensity by reducing their fuel.

“When I’ve talked to folks who live in the red zone, the number one reason they say have not done mitigation is time and the cost to them out of pocket,” Kerr said.

Lawmakers re-authorized a 2008 bill that provides tax credits for 50 percent of a homeowners mitigation costs up to $2,500. But that only helps so much if neighbors don’t mitigate as well. So they passed another law aimed at helping entire communities do mitigation. It provides nearly $10 million in matching grants for not only local governments, but homeowners associations.

“Ultimately what that means is we’ll be putting almost $20 million worth of work on the ground,” Lisa Dale with the Department of Natural Resources said.

That kind of large scale mitigation is what lawmakers hope will reduce the damage caused by fires.

“It would be great if next summer we might hear about some small fires, but they don’t get blown up into the big ones kill people and destroy homes,” Kerr said.

In addition to financial help, the state forest service offers information on everything from how to set up a community wildfire protection plan to fire-wise building materials and landscaping. A state forester will even come to homes to do an assessment of a home’s fire risk.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit’s Wildfire Resources section.

– Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.


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