Residents encouraged to attend wildfire meeting

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— Growth in Stagecoach has some residents concerned about a natural catastrophe such as a wildfire.

To mitigate those concerns, a group of Stagecoach officials is in the process of developing a Stagecoach Area Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which outlines how the area would handle a major wildfire.

The second public meeting regarding the plan is from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Stagecoach Fire Station No. 1.

C.D. Johnson, who lives in Stagecoach, was disappointed in how few residents turned out for a preliminary meeting in February.

"I think it's imperative other Stagecoach residents and property owners attend these meetings because we need ideas and a more diverse representation," he said.

Chris Zuschlag, a Stagecoach resident and Oak Creek Fire Protection District board member, said lack of representation could equal lack of protection in the future.

"I want to stress that the core group of people behind the (fire plan) can put this together, but without your input, your home or your property might not be included in protected areas," he said.

The protection plan is a joint effort of local, state and federal officials to create a plan that would protect certain designated areas in case of a major wildfire. The plan also would address wildfire response capability, protection of homes, watersheds, wildlife habitats and open space. The plan will include areas of Lynx Pass, Stagecoach Reservoir, Bureau of Land Management property, Green Mountain Ridge and Morrison Creek drainage area.

Johnson said drafting such a plan "sooner rather than later" is crucial because so many new homes are being built in the area.

"The massive growth we've seen in the last two years has made it important for us to look at what's coming up next," he said. "We're going to be seeing more and more building permits that are coming down the line, things we weren't dealing with two years ago."

In 2006, 54 new homes were built in Stagecoach. Routt County planning officials estimate if growth continues at the current pace, as many as 637 or more new homes could dot the map by 2010.

"By showing up, your concerns will be addressed," Zuschlag said. "We really want the community to come together and get this plan in place so that if there is a fire we aren't wasting time trying to figure who's going to do what and go where."

Tuesday's meeting is the second in a series of six meetings designed to define and draft the protection plan. For more information, call Zuschlag at 846-2528.

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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