With Colorado’s most destructive wildfire season claiming more than 650 homes, the need for homeowners in high-risk areas to use non-flammable building materials and to clear vegetation around their residences has become more important than ever. Like a majority of states, Colorado relies on a hodgepodge of ordinances that encourage municipalities to create plans for protecting homes from fire and don’t provide penalties for not doing so.
The need for more education and preventative measures against wildfires is being threatened by proposed cuts in funding. Funding for federal programs fell 25 percent to $73 million proposed in fiscal 2013, from $97 million in fiscal 2011, said Jake Donnay, senior director of forest policy for the National Association of State Foresters. “We’re pulling from our fuel reduction and prevention programs to pay for suppression,” said Jim Karels, state forester for Florida, where 18 million people live among 26 million fire-prone acres. “It has a snowball effect which makes it worse each year.”