Colorado Wildfire Mitigation Delivers Big Impact

Duane Poslusny

On a wildfire mitigation op in 2023, Greyshirts pulled down big trees and big savings for a local community.

With wildfires on the horizon—and now nearly guaranteed every year in the American West—Team Rubicon has been using mitigation operations to help prepare communities against fires before they start. In 2023, Team Rubicon completed 28 wildfire mitigation operations and assisted with wildfire recovery operations across the West, including in Hawaii. Among the biggest was June’s Colorado wildfire mitigation operation, Trees on Parade in Hot Sulphur Springs. 

Trees on Parade was a sequel to the ’22 Colorado wildfire mitigation op Rage Against the Ravine. Building on the successes and lessons learned at Rage Against the Ravine, Trees on Parade saw 28 Greyshirts fly in from as far as Hawaii and Florida to join 55 Western Greyshirts in the mountains of Colorado. Over the course of the 13 days of the operation, sawyers from all three branches coached each other while felling hazardous rotten cottonwoods, clearing a fuel break, protecting the town of Hot Sulphur Springs from wildfires, and downing diseased trees to prevent them from falling on people. 

A Greyshirt trims branches during the Hot Sulphur Springs Colorado wildfire mitigation work.

This fuel break also reduced the risk of ash and chemicals from burned homes contaminating the drinking water supply for Hot Sulphur Springs and the other 40 million water users along the Colorado River. Other work orders included mitigating the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) around the homes of first responders and elderly residents. 

During the ’23 Colorado wildfire mitigation operation, Greyshirts from around the country also learned how to assess homes for wildfire risk and properly mitigate homes and communities.

Operations like Trees on Parade are vital for training Greyshirts from all over the U.S. on how to protect communities from wildfires. And, of course, to serve the community itself. All told, the 83 Greyshirts deployed to Op Trees on Parade cleared more than 7 acres of potential wildfire fuels, created 1.54 million square feet of fire breaks, and served more than two dozen individuals for a community value of just more than $183,000.

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