USFS seeking resources | SteamboatToday.com

USFS seeking resources

Forest Service planning ahead for summer forest fires

Nick Foster

The U.S. Forest Service needs help from individuals and businesses that could help provide resources to firefighters in the event of a wildfire this summer.

When drought and lightning cause fires, firefighters often need resources beyond those readily available.

In an effort to have additional materials and services ready on demand, the Forest Service will host several vendor fairs in March and April to offer payment to individuals and businesses who can help wildfire crews.

The materials and services needed, for either purchase or rental, include equipment, meals, potable water, portable toilets, trash receptacles, laundry service, refrigeration space and ambulance service.

The Forest Service will pay rates comparable to that of rental service companies, Public Affairs Specialist Diann Ritschard said.

Out-of-town rental companies often are contacted to supplement supplies. But the Forest Service hopes the vendor fairs will help establish a new way of obtaining materials and services while supporting the local economy Ritschard said.

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“We want to give local people, who might be able to provide these services, the opportunity to come and talk to us, so we can use their services,” Ritschard said. “We want to be able to just call them up and be ready to go, whether it’s getting meals from a restaurant or borrowing tools from a resident. Sometimes we need a little. Sometimes we need a lot. But they need to have everything pretty handy to manage and fight the fires.”

Information will be distributed and questions answered at the vendor fairs to determine who can help.

The vendor fair for the Routt National Forest will be from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Forest Service office at 925 Weiss Drive.

“With the Blowdown in 1997, followed by beetle epidemic, we do have a lot of dry trees, and a lightning strike could cause a large fire,” Ritschard said. “We want to be prepared and we want our communities to be prepared.”

The Forest Service also will hold a pair of public meetings to discuss winter recreation issues and recent studies on those issues involving Rabbit Ears Pass, Buffalo Pass and north Routt County. The first meeting will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the Routt County Commissioners board room. The second will be from 3 to 6 p.m. March 18 at the Steamboat Lake Visitors Center.

— To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com