by Terri Wiebold
When the Cherokee Ranch fire in 2003 came within 100 yards of Pine Ridge open space and forced the evacuation of much of the Castle Pines North community, the Pine Ridge Homeowner’s Association (HOA) formed a committee to expand upon the basic Wildfire Mitigation Plan originally written for its developer in 1999.
“It is not just about cutting down trees, cleaning the area completely and spending a fortune,” said Pine Ridge Fire Mitigation Committee Chairperson Barbara Saenger. “It is about figuring out how to make your money go farther and how to utilize the many resources available out there if you pursue them.”
According to Jill Alexander, Douglas County Fire Mitigation Specialist, the grant application process to receive federal funding is very competitive. “This is a very committed group of homeowners,” said Alexander. “This Association is not typical; they did all the work themselves to earn this grant.”
Pine Ridge HOA submitted its grant application in 2005, and has since been awarded $16,484 toward its fire mitigation project. The grant is one that involves matching on the part of the applicant and in-kind services as well. The Pine Ridge HOA is currently borrowing from its reserves to fund the remainder of the project, but has budgeted funds in its operating budget for fire mitigation maintenance.
“The entire Pine Ridge community has taken this on and has made a commitment to this project,” said Saenger, “and the support has been overwhelming.”
Diana Selby of the Colorado State Forest Service credits Pine Ridge’s success in receiving this funding to the “grass roots” nature of the effort. “The key is to have a collaborative effort and to form partnerships with common goals among all parties involved,” said Selby. “Pine Ridge Homeowner’s Association accomplished this.”
For additional information about the grant process, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/ or contact Barbara Saenger at Contact by email.