Less fuel for a potential fire
Mitigation efforts attract volunteers to Red Rock workday

       With the Waldo Canyon Fire a not-very-distant memory, about 70 volunteers converged on Red Rock Canyon Open Space the morning of July 28 to clean up dead materials that a fire could have used as fuel.

Hannah Porter (aka Miss Colorado) poses for a photo with Dave Dombach, lead organizer of the Fire Mitigation Day at Red Rock Canyon Open Space July 28. The event drew about 70 volunteers.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “Most of the time for our projects we're lucky to get 20 people,” pointed out Dave Dombach, a Friends of Red Rock Canyon member and chief event organizer. “I think everyone wanted to get out there and do something to help themselves feel better.”
       In all about five truckloads worth of dead brush was collected and placed in piles in the area of the Red Rock Canyon Trail, northeast of the old quarry. City Parks workers planned to pick up the piles later, with the plan of turning them into wood chips for public mulching uses, according to Mike Weeks, a city ranger whose areas of responsibility include Red Rock.
       Although the day's productivity exceeded expectations, “it's very clear that the amount of work we did is just a beginning,” noted Friends of Red Rock President Karl Klepfer. “Hopefully this can be continued in all our open spaces. There's a lot more to do, but people showed they're willing to do it.”
       The event even featured a celebrity (Hannah Porter, Miss Colorado) as well as an elected official (Lisa Czelatdko, who was credited by Dombach with suggesting the workday plan).
       Porter, a Denver resident who graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 2010, heard about the workday while in Colorado Springs for the Colorado State Games the same weekend. She said she likes working on volunteer projects like the one in Red Rock Canyon. “There's a time and a place for everything,” she said. “I wear the crown and sash sometimes, but I also like to get out and help the community.”
       After the morning workday, a City Fire official gave a presentation to the workers about regional mitigation efforts. Red Rock Canyon is part of what firefighters call the “wildland interface” - a proximity that became very clear in late June when the Waldo Canyon Fire threatened (and burned) homes and open spaces across several miles along the western edge of the city.
       The Friends of Red Rock Canyon came together as a volunteer organization in 2004, a year after the city purchased the 789-acre property.

Volunteer workers clear out the deadwood during the Fire Mitigation Day at Red Rock Canyon Open Space July 28.
Westside Pioneer photo

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