By Bryan Farley, RS, Association Reserves - Colorado
Will it be the carrot… or the stick? This is an age old question that establishes the best way to motivate people to do something that they may not want to do. Is it best option to string along a carrot in front of someone’s nose to move in the right direction, or is it best to utilize some form of punishment to steer them to correct their course? After 30 years in this industry educating other professionals, clients, and prospects how to make wise decisions with respect to Reserves, we at Association Reserves believe that in it may be best to change behavior by providing a financial reward.
While it’s hard to dispute the adage, “In real estate, only three things matter: location, location, and location” there are actions a community association board can and should take to enhance the value of its owners’ homes. For most homeowners, housing is their largest single asset. Most board and owners focus on increasing their home values. A board that acts to maximize home values makes a large and lasting difference in the financial best interests of its members.
So what can a board do?
Budget accurately & honestly (Operating and Reserves)
Assess the funds necessary to maximize curb appeal, minimize or eliminate (costly) deferred maintenance, and thrive. A dated lobby or a regularly broken entry gate leaks more money than a broken pipe. Fortunately, the result of slightly higher assessments (hundreds of dollars per year) is rewarded with thousands of dollars of improved home value. Imagine driving into neighborhood with two neighboring associations on either side. The property on the right has a degraded parking lot, letters missing from the entry monument, and paint peeling off the balcony rails. On the left side you see a property with a well paved parking area, well painted exteriors, and an inviting landscaped appearance. Obviously, one of the two properties has adequate funds to cover the basic ongoing repair and replacement responsibilities and most likely higher home sale values.
Avoid special assessments
Special assessments are disruptive and divisive and in most cases are predictable years in advance. Real Estate agents familiar with your neighborhood know what goes on in your association and they discourage strong sales offers for homes in associations with a history of special assessments. How do you know if your association is at risk for a special assessment? On average, an association that is a 30% funded or less has a risk of special assessment anywhere from 18% to 50%, whereas an association 70% funded and above has a less than 1% chance of special assessment.
Manage well (professionally and transparently)
The association belongs to the owners, not to the board or management. Create a smooth, well-oiled machine. Publish meeting agendas, minutes, budgets, newsletters, etc. Schedule social events and create a culture of community, with active volunteers being trained up to be board members, all contributing to maximized home values and the improved future of the association. Employ a credentialed manager who helps move the association forward, not just a professional “babysitter”. Treat Real Estate agents as your sales representatives, not adversaries. All of these things take time or money, but a healthy, well-run community is inviting. Buyers will pay more to join such a welcoming community.
Hire knowledgeable business partners
Remember that your goal is not to save a few bucks here or there, your goal is to raise home values by thousands of dollars. Use business partners and vendors who are experts in their field, familiar with community associations, and who are appropriately licensed or credentialed. Think of your association as a team. Only hire “varsity” players, all-stars who can contribute to your success.
Much of the above is just general good advice, but we at Association Reserves have been able to conclusively measure the influence of one specific aspect of association behavior on home values. In a controlled study recently completed, Association Reserves found that home values in associations with well-funded Reserves (above 70% Funded) averaged 12.6%higher than similar homes in associations with poorly funded Reserves (0-30% Funded). Well-funded Reserves mean maximized curb appeal instead of ugly and budget-draining deferred maintenance and a history of special assessments. “Strong Reserves” typically exist in associations that are managed well. The evidence shows that buyers are willing to pay more for homes in a well-run and financially stable association. It may cost an extra $20 to $60/month in homeowner assessments ($240 to $720 per year), but it leads to increasedhomevalues. A 12.6% increase in a $325,000 condo is a sweet $40,950 increase in value. What a tremendous return on investment from an owner’s additional $240 to $720 per year. Now that’s a nice financial incentive to string in front of one’s nose.
Bryan Farley (RS #260) is the president of Association Reserves – Colorado. Bryan has completed over 1,000 Capital Reserve Studies, and is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of Reserve planning for community associations.
By Maris S. Davies, Esq., HindmanSanchez
Special assessments are an inevitable fact of life for associations. Every association has a moment in time when the board comes to the conclusion that: (1) the association has failing infrastructure and cannot afford to pay for a greatly needed overhaul; (2) the association has a sudden expense it cannot cover (such as large insurance deductibles); or (3) the association would like to undertake new capital improvements for the community to update the community, but does not have the funds to do so. One potential way to resolve monetary shortfalls is to levy a special assessment against the homeowners in the community. A special assessment is typically assessed against all or a portion of the homeowners in a community to finance major projects or unanticipated and unbudgeted expenses, including but not limited to the scenarios above.
When first deciding whether or not levy a special assessment a thorough review of the association’s declaration and all amendments to the declaration is necessary. The first question that must be answered is does the declaration even allow for a special assessment at all? Assuming it does, an association must consider the following: (1) does the special assessment provision in the declaration provide the board with the power to levy an assessment for the specific issue at hand; (2) does the special assessment provision require a vote of the homeowners, or can the board levy the assessment with approval; (3) how much will the special assessment be per unit; (4) can the board afford to allow interval payments over time or must the assessment be paid in one lump sum; and (5) if the payment must be made in a lump sum, can the homeowners in the community afford to make it?
While a special assessment may be beneficial, and potentially necessary, for an association, the initial response from the homeowners will likely be negative and potentially coupled with pushback based on the amount and/or the proposed use. Unfortunately, this is a typical response. Assuming the association must secure the vote of the homeowner to move forward with the special assessment (which is typical), the best way to address this initial reaction from the homeowner is to be upfront and transparent about the need for the funds, to have open lines of communication with the homeowners, and to get the homeowners involved in the decision making process. In addition, an association should strive to provide the homeowner with a payment schedule, or tentative payment schedule, as early on as possible in the process so as to allow a homeowner to budget and/or make arrangements to secure the funds. The association should also be open to reducing the scope of the assessment if necessary, i.e. outlining the ideal situation, the bare minimum, and then finding some middle ground that accomplishes the association’s goals but will still be approved by the homeowners.
Special assessments are an extremely helpful mechanism to secure funds in a precarious situation; however, special assessments are reactionary and associations should take steps to properly budget and fund their reserves so as to avoid special assessments related to unexpected events. Proper planning both now and for future expenses is paramount. If the association’s declaration does not contain special assessment language, and the association is a pre-Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”) community (i.e. created prior to July 1, 1992) a declaration amendment would be necessary to create the power to levy special assessments. If the association is a post-CCIOA community (created after July 1, 1992) and the declaration is silent with respect to special assessments, the CCIOA budget process applies. If the board follows the budget process and the special assessment budget is ratified by the owners, the board may move forward with the special assessment.
Maris Davies is an attorney at HindmanSanchez P.C. and specializes in representation of Homeowners Associations and Community Association law. Please visit www.hindmansanchez.com for more information.
As the population in Colorado continues to grow a steady rate, one may notice the many new housing developments, high rises, and condo complexes popping up around the state. These properties look great, with fresh paint on the walls, roofs that do not leak, and elevators that work when called. However, within a few years these buildings will start to experience the same issues that plague every other building in the area, asset failure.
This dilemma is not only limited to new projects, but also to older buildings that have just undergone a renovation or remodel. In fact, all new construction will experience a state of deterioration once the project has been completed.
How can owners be motivated to raise Reserve Contributions after the board just special assessed the owners to fund the remodel? How can a board of a brand new condo building justify raising Reserves when the majority of the owners closed on their units six months ago?
The answer of course is that as soon as the new construction has been finalized, the assets will begin to decay and deteriorate at a predictable rate until all of the assets have failed completely. However, the assets will not all fail at the same time. For example, the roof may last twenty-five years, but the carpet may only last eight years. If the failure and replacement of the assets do not occur at the same time, how will the costs of these assets be evenly distributed throughout the life of the building?
It is only fair that each owner pay for the predictable deterioration of the assets that are gradually deteriorating each month/quarter/year. That is fundamentally what a Reserve Study attempts to help owners accomplish, take all those irregular Reserve expenses and distill them down to a steady deterioration rate that the association can then offset be collecting contributions from all the current owners in order to keep pace with the ongoing deterioration of the common area.
That is why the Reserve contribution rate recommended in a Reserve Study is not for a future expense that is some other unlucky person’s problem. The recommended Reserve contribution is designed so each homeowner pays a fair share of ongoing Reserve component deterioration during the months and years that they own in the association. It’s only fair. In fact, it is unfair for any current owner to pay less than ongoing deterioration, forcing some unlucky future owners to over pay due to past under-reserving.
Moving forward, how much should current owners contribute to Reserves? In our experience, “adequate” Reserve contributions typically make up anywhere from 15% to 40% of an association’s total budget. The cost of Reserve component deterioration can be expensive, so there are ways to minimize your Reserve contributions:
Reserve components are expensive and are deteriorating every day. A Reserve Study will provide guidance on how much money will be needed each year to pay for the ongoing asset failure. Each year, owners should hire a professional to review and update their Reserve Study.
By commissioning a Reserve Study, a board takes the first step toward a calmer and proactive future. Prudent planning for inevitable repair and replacement costs will benefit future owners, but present owners benefit also. With a Reserve Study boards and managers can help the present generation of owners understand that they, too, can enjoy their share of the benefits of prudent reserve planning.
Bryan Farley (RS #260) is the president of Association Reserves – Colorado. Bryan has completed over 1,000 Capital Reserve Studies, and is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of Reserve planning for community associations.
By April L. Ahrendsen, Mutual of Omaha Bank
Have you ever heard these words uttered at your Board meeting? If not you are one of the fortunate ones. It seems that for years the badge that most association’s wanted to wear read;
“We haven’t raised our dues in years!”
While this sounds great it can be your downfall and eventually place you in a position where a loan is your only way out. By not raising your dues to keep pace with inflation, your association may have done more harm than good. Even though Colorado does not require a Reserve Study they are necessary for the association to prepare for future expenses. The study outlines a plan to fund the association’s reserve so when an asset needs to be repaired or replaced the association has the money to make it happen.
But what happens when the asset needs to be repaired or replaced and the association does not have the funds on hand? Well, that’s when the association needs to review its options because the problem is not going away without some type of action.
Now that the association has identified the need and the cost of reconstruction, what are the Homeowners’ options to meet their portion of the associations funding requirements?
There are 4 options for every association;
What are the advantages of borrowing?
a.Downward slide of property values slowed or eliminated. Structural problems, which must be disclosed to potential buyers, will retard the sales process and lead to falling home prices. Rapidly improving the appearance and eliminating structural integrity problems can slow or eliminate falling home values.
b.Needed repairs/improvements completed quickly. By borrowing the money, total needed funds become available for use much faster than through the traditional special assessment process. Passing a special assessment will give the board of directors the power to collect the money. There is still the difficulty of collecting from those homeowners who do not have the ability to pay.
c.Reduced financial impact on homeowners. By participating in the loan, homeowners avoid having to make a lump sum special assessment payment. Homeowners can pay their share over time to reduce the impact on their personal finances.
What are the disadvantages of borrowing?
a.May increase monthly assessments. A special or increased assessment may be implemented to support the loan. Allocating portions of the reserve contributions can offset some or all of the increase.
b.Interest costs incurred may be high. This depends upon the loan structure. However, construction savings may significantly reduce the final effect on the association’s total reconstruction costs if done over a longer period of time.
How is the loan secured?
Assignment of association assets that may include but are not limited to monthly assessments. No liens are placed on individual units by the bank.
A vote of approval may be required;
Some banks will require that the Board of Directors be directly empowered to assign association assets by a vote of your membership. The vote is considered important because:
Getting through your special assessment membership meeting;
The special assessment meeting can be very difficult. However, there are some key steps you can take to improve the probability of your meeting going well and the vote being passed.
a.Bring allies – banker, attorney, property manager, contractor etc. Your Board does not have the credibility of the “experts”.
b.A Board representative reviews the process of the steps outlined earlier with the membership as the introduction to the meeting.
c.Experts present their area of expertise to the membership such as the banker on the loan program.
d.All questions are fielded by the expert present.
Selecting a Bank;
Selecting a bank to provide your loan can be daunting as the vast majority of banks do not offer loans for community associations. Although these loans appear to be real estate construction loans, the majority of banks who provide these loans treat them as a unique form of a commercial business loan. Some factors to consider when selecting your bank:
Finally, the approval period;
Usually, it will take up to 30 days from the receipt of all required documents for the loan to be approved. Loan documents are completed for signing within 10 to 30 days upon receipt of the signed commitment letter by the bank.
While this article has not answered every possible question with regard to lending, my intention is to give you, the HOA Member, a solid understanding of what it means should you ever heard the words, “We need to borrow money to repair our association!”
April L Ahrendsen, VP
Mutual of Omaha Bank
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mutual of Omaha Bank.”
By Heather L. Hartung, White Bear Ankele Tanaka & Waldron
You have heard the saying that April showers bring May flowers, but have you thought that possibly pool keys cure delinquencies? Thinking outside the box is key to a successful collection effort on behalf of an association as following the standard collection process is not always the most expeditious way to collect.
The “standard” collection process starts with the association or management company sending the required reminder and warning letters noted within the collection policy and providing delinquent owners who qualify with an opportunity to enter into a six month payment plan. When these letters are ignored, and let’s face it most are likely thrown in the trash, the file is turned over to legal counsel. At this point, the standard process is for the law firm to send a demand letter and when a response is not received the next step is a personal lawsuit. None of these actions typically catch the owner’s attention. There likely is not a reaction until the owner is served with a lawsuit and then that reaction seems to occur at 4:55pm the day before the scheduled return date at court.
Is it possible to catch a delinquent owner’s attention earlier in this process? In some instances, yes. This brings us back to pool keys and delinquencies. If an association’s governing documents provide that access to amenities, such as the community pool, may be withheld when an owner is delinquent USE IT. Withholding pool privileges September to April will not have much of an impact, but notifying owners a month or so before the pool season or cutting off pool privileges during the pool season will likely result in a response. At this point, the association can, depending on the language within the governing documents and rules and assuming the association has already complied with the requirement to offer a six month payment plan, either require full payment in order to reinstate pool privileges or offer to reinstate pool privileges if the delinquent owner enters into a payment plan and remains current on the plan. When the pool season is over the owner may return to his delinquent ways, but at least there was successful collections up until the completion of the pool season. In addition, during this process associations gain valuable information that may be used later if judgment is obtained and the association seeks to collect through a bank or wage garnishment.
Accelerating dues is another alternative collection technique available in a majority of the newer declarations. These provisions typically provide after an account has been delinquent for a specified number of days that the association can call the balance for the remainder of the year due. Then, that total amount is the amount that is collected. This is typically most effective during the first or second quarter of the year and is useful when an owner is habitually delinquent.
Another alternative collection tool is to proceed with a receivership action when a property is tenant-occupied or vacant. This is the process by which the court, upon motion, appoints a disinterested, third-party to temporarily divest the owner of control over the property. The receiver seeks to rent the property (if vacant) and the rent collected is used to pay for the receiver’s time and cost and to pay the owner’s delinquent account to the association. When the property is already rented, the receiver notifies the tenant that all future rent payments until otherwise notified are to be paid to the receiver. This usually prompts delinquent owners to contact the association and/or receiver. Although not always looked upon favorably by the courts, receivership actions can be successful given the right set of circumstances.
All in all, successful collections requires thinking outside of the box and utilizing alternative collection tools when available. So the next time you think about April showers bringing May flowers also think of pool keys curing delinquencies.
Heather L. Hartung is an associate at the law firm of White Bear Ankele Tanaka & Waldron where her practice focuses on collections for homeowners associations and metropolitan districts. She may be reached at (303) 858-1800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Melanie L. Millage, BA, CMCA, CAM, TMMC
Budget season is quickly approaching. As a Board Member or Community Manager there are many factors to consider when developing the budget for your Homeowner’s Association.
Melanie L. Millage, BA, CMCA, CAM
Director of Operations
TMMC Property Management
TMMC has been providing HOA Community Management Services to our local communities for over 20 years. TMMC is dedicated to transforming HOA Community Management through our commitment to professional standards, education and relationships – acting with honesty, integrity and transparency. Melanie can be reached at email@example.com.
By Sara B. Duginske, M.S., Director, Credentialing Services Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB)
If you’re one of many CMCAs gearing up for the Fall and Spring recertification cycles, the summer months are a perfect time to regroup and recharge by participating in fun and educational learning opportunities. It’s never too early to make sure you’re on track to successfully complete the process. Recertification means you’re an accomplished professional committed to developing your skills and knowledge.
Recertification is a critical component to promoting and demonstrating continued competency in the community association management profession. In order to maintain the CMCA credential, recertifying CMCAs must participate in continuing education in the field of community association management totaling at least 16 hours of continuing education coursework every two years, and pay the $105 annual maintenance fee.
The CMCA examination is NCCA-accredited and in the professional credentialing industry, NCCA accreditation represents compliance with best credentialing industry practices. As a CMCA you can continue to enhance your marketability, show your dedication to your profession, and provide the highest level of guidance to your associations by continuing your education and maintaining your certification.
Recertification also provides the opportunity for you to reaffirm your commitment to the CMCA Standards of Professional Conduct to your community associations, your employers, your peers and the millions of people living in community associations.
There are numerous professional development opportunities for CMCAs, ranging from college degrees and coursework, to conferences, professional coaching, community workshops, seminars, symposiums, and webinars. There are many courses offered that cover a wide range of topics including community association management operations, administration, legal requirements, accounting, human resources, and public administration.
In February 2017, the CAMICB Board of Commissioners approved a new continuing education policy for individuals seeking CMCA recertification.
Make sure to familiarize yourself with those changes, many of which are located in the Credit Specification section which can be found here: https://www.camicb.org/Pages/ContinuingEducation.aspx
In addition, it’s important to note that anyone who meets the continuing education requirements to maintain the following credentials will meet the CAMICB continuing education requirement:
Are you receiving the CAMICB SmartBrief, exclusive to CMCA credential holders? This weekly snapshot of both industry and CAMICB news will keep you up to date on what’s happening in the field of community association management: https://www.camicb. org/Pages/Smartbrief.aspx
Upcoming Chapter Events And Approved Educational Programs/ Offerings can be found at http://www.cai-rmc.org/Events
Visit www.camicb.org for useful resources, links, approved continuing education courses and providers.
By Tia M. Zavaras, Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson
As a Coloradan, you don’t need to be a meteorologist to know a couple truths about our weather. It can be extreme. And it can be unpredictable. Three weeks ago, I was seeding my lawn and planting flowers. Today, I’m watching the sun melt the remnants of the last snow storm off my deck. I love the unpredictable Colorado weather, but I have seen many cautionary tales of communities caught off guard when Mother Nature invariably strikes. Because we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us when our next weather event will occur, this is the time of year to take inventory of the preventative measures you can implement in your communities. These measures go a long way in preventing costly damage to residential and business structures and their contents.
The best way to get communities ready for Mother Nature is to do a site walk with a trusted licensed contractor. Take time to walk around every building to observe the conditions. The most important function of a structure is to keep Mother Nature out.
After a storm, take the opportunity to look at how water is being managed around the community. Pay attention to window and door leaks. They can and will damage the contents and finishes of the home or business but, over time, prolonged and continued water intrusion into a structure will also damage the building framing. If water is entering the structure at multiple units in the same community, contact a licensed architect or engineer to determine the cause of the water intrusion and to provide a repair recommendation that can be implemented by a licensed contractor.
We often feel the wrath of Mother Nature first at the top of the structure. Is it time to perform maintenance on the roof penetrations such as plumbing vents and skylights? Are the boots on the vents cracked and damaged? Has the sealant at the vent or flashing deteriorated? These are all common areas of water intrusion following heavy precipitation. Inspecting and maintaining these areas will go a long way to prevent Mother Nature from wreaking havoc on the roofs.
Move to the sides of those roofs and observe how the gutters are performing. Roof gutters serve to remove snow and water away from the structure. Are the gutters clogged with the leaves and debris from last fall? In the winter, they can become blocked or damaged by ice damming. Gutters need to maintain proper slope so that the water does not sit against the roof structure any longer than necessary. Follow the gutter to the downspout extension. Is the extension still attached or has it been removed and is lying next to the building? Is the elbow bent up against the structure, preventing proper discharge of the water? Re-route any extensions that discharge water near a window well. Make sure that the extension has positive slope to properly discharge water at least six feet away from the building foundation. Speaking of foundations, walk around them. Is water ponding against the foundation because the grade is flat, or has little or reverse slope towards the building?
Step back from the buildings and observe whether water collects and saturates the sod even though it has been days since there has been precipitation. Is there an area that is referred to as the community’s “mosquito coast” because of a constant source of stagnant or ponding water? If so, it’s a good idea to have an engineer provide grading recommendations. You’d be two steps ahead of Mother Nature.
In summer, even when Mother Nature has been quiet for five minutes, it is not uncommon for sump pumps to be working overtime to remove water from the foundation. Is that sump pump discharging on to the sidewalk, making it a mossy mess during the warm months and a sheet of ice when it’s cold? If so, your engineer can help re-route the sump pump discharge.
One smart way to get ahead of Mother Nature, is to review your communities’ liability insurance policies with your favorite insurance broker to determine if they are adequately insured for losses due to Mother Nature. More and more communities are having to opt for high deductible policies, especially for hail claims. If your community will incur a significant deductible on their next hail or flood claim, the association will invariably have to specially assess owners to pay that deductible. Those assessments can run in the thousands of dollars. If any of your communities have these high deductible policies, it’s a good idea to notify the owners and recommend they add a very inexpensive “special assessment” endorsement to their own personal owners’ insurance policies to cover the special assessment.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this couldn’t be more true for community associations in Colorado. Taking steps now will save you and your communities from headaches in the future. As Mother Nature has shown us in recent years in Colorado, we never know exactly what to expect, be it wildfires, blizzards, wind storms, hail, or floods. However, by being proactive and taking a few steps now before disaster strikes, you can position your communities to weather whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at them.
Tia M. Zavaras is a Partner at Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson. When she is not attending her boys’ sporting events or litigating construction defect cases, she enjoys gardening and working in the yard.
Governor Hickenlooper signed SB13-126 into law (2013), requiring community associations to permit owners to install Type 1 and Type 2 electric vehicle charging stations on their lots and on limited common elements designated for an individual owner’s use. SB13-126 adds Section 106.8 to the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act and states the following reason for the legislation: The primary purpose of this section is to ensure that common interest communities provide their residents with at least a meaningful opportunity to take advantage of the availability of plug-in electric vehicles rather than create artificial restrictions on the adoption of this promising technology.
The new law further encourages associations to apply for grants to assist with funding electric vehicle charging stations on common elements. SB13-126 goes on to state requirements for electric vehicle charging stations that associations must permit. With this new legislation, which is effective immediately, associations cannot prohibit installation of electric vehicle charging stations on an owner’s unit or limited common element designated for the owner’s use and cannot charge owners a fee for the right to install a charging station.
While SB13-126 grants owners permission to pursue the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, the law does not require associations to incur expenses related to the installation or use of these stations. Some properties may require upgrades to electrical wiring and disruption to common areas as part of the installation work for a charging station. Associations can and should address these issues through policies and agreements with owners who are seeking permission to install charging stations.
As part of their policies concerning electric vehicle charging stations, associations can require the following:
Because the law goes into effect immediately, associations should consider adopting policies now so that procedures are in place before owners submit architectural requests for charging stations. A number of industry professionals testified at committee hearings as SB13-126 moved through the legislative process and are available to assist associations and owners with designing solutions that fit the unique aspects of their properties.
If your association needs help with a policy, or seeks professional assistance on installation options on site, contact one of our attorneys for information and resources.
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By Dave Root, Colorado State Forest Service
It’s July, so it’s probably safe to say that the evening news is reporting on some community, somewhere, threatened by wildfire.
Every home, business or community within or close to wildland fuels, be they forests or grasslands, is at risk from wildfire. The specter of such destruction is frightening to confront, and perhaps that is why so many communities choose to ignore it—often at the cost of lives, property and the wildlands so loved by the residents. But communities that acknowledge this threat and take action in advance have the best chance of surviving a wildfire.
Take the example of Cathedral Pines, a community in the direct path of the 2013 Black Forest Fire north of Colorado Springs. The developer of Cathedral Pines had the foresight to thin the forests, removing unhealthy trees and dangerously unnatural fuel accumulations, before the homes were even built. As the fire burned through the community, the prior fuel reduction efforts reduced the fire’s intensity, and only one home, near unmanaged forest outside Cathedral Pines, was lost. Furthermore, the forest survived with the loss of only a few trees, so the community and its forest quickly recovered. If Cathedral Pines demonstrated that a community that is prepared can survive Colorado’s most destructive wildfire, why do so few communities plan and take actions for their own survival?
One reason is that oftentimes they don’t know where to begin. The first step is a simple phone call to your local fire protection district or Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) district office. The CSFS is a service and outreach division of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, and assists communities and landowners with forestry and wildfire mitigation issues. Nineteen district and field offices are located around the state, with contact information available on the CSFS website at www.csfs.colostate.edu.
Every task also begins with a plan, and help is available to communities through the creation of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Although the name may conjure images of a complex document written in confusing jargon, CWPPs, as they are known, are actually written by the communities themselves, in language they understand, with the assistance of a forester. In plain English, these plans answer three questions:
Motivating the community to take action is the next task. There is help here as well. Your local fire protection district and CSFS representatives will work with your community, with firefighters available to speak at HOA meetings and community events. Many fire districts also will visit homeowners and provide confidential recommendations for reducing fire risks inside and outside the home.
The CSFS also provides information and literature on a wide variety of forestry and wildfire topics. Forest health and wildfire risk reduction are inseparable goals, and a forester can additionally offer advice about insect and disease problems and help communities improve forest health while reducing wildfire risk.
CONTACT US(303) 585-0367Bridget@hoa-colorado.org
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