The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), directed by the Colorado State Legislature through Senate Bill 09-001, released new minimum standards for development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs). CWPPs are documents that focus on identifying and mitigating local wildfire risks within an established plan area. This update comes as the last guidance, issued in 2009 has become outdated.
In a recent presentation hosted by Fire Adapted Colorado (FACO), representatives from CSFS shared that these new guidelines would better link to funding, emphasize the flexibility of CWPPs, and address the reality of urgent current conditions relating to wildfire risk across the state. Current conditions, including prolonged drought, played a role in recent fires across Colorado and other western states.
Many of CSFS’s previous required CWPP elements (i.e. plan components that must be included) have remained the same, including a delineation of the wildland-urban interface (WUI), wildfire risk analysis, identification of adjacent landowners, methods to reduce structural ignitability, and an implementation plan. The guidance also continues to advocate for a diverse group of community members participating in the drafting of plans.
Significant changes to the guidance incorporate two new categories for plan components: ‘should include’ and ‘may include.’ CSFS recommends that CWPPs ‘should include’ information on emergency notification resources, evacuation information, socially vulnerable population considerations, and a commitment for regular revision (preferably every five years). Further, CWPPs ‘may include’ post-fire considerations and incorporate alignment between the CWPP and other documents, such as FEMA Hazard Mitigation Plans.
One notable additional change is specific guidance on plan lifetimes and update processes. CSFS recommends that CWPPs be updated every five years; CWPPs greater than 10 years old are considered outdated and will not be prioritized when considered for competitive funding opportunities. CSFS also provides a list of what must or should be included in CWPP updates.