Grand Lake chipping day sees mass influx of participants
GRAND LAKE — It took workers two full weeks to complete the chipping process from this year’s Grand Lake chipping day after a massive influx of local residents took advantage of the annual event.
According to Brad White, mitigation committee chair for the Wildfire Council, this year’s Grand Lake chipping day saw 230 loads of wood brought for chipping by local residents. In previous years, the chipping program has seen roughly 230 to 240 loads in total brought between all four chipping days across the county.
The Grand County Wildfire Council held its annual free chipping day July 14 in the Grand Lake area near the corner of U.S. Highway 34 and Grand County Road 48. The council holds a series of four chipping days each summer, one in the Winter Park-Fraser area, one in Granby, one in Kremmling and one in Grand Lake. Historically, the Grand Lake area chipping day has seen the highest numbers of participants, averaging about 75 loads of wood.
But this year was a much different story.
Chipping day was held two weeks after the Golf Course Fire burned roughly 20 acres in the wooded areas in and around the developed subdivisions west of the town. The fire prompted the evacuation of around 300 homes in the area. The fire did not damage any structures thanks to the efforts of local firefighters who were greatly aided by fire mitigation work that had been conducted in the area previously.
The recent memory of danger created by the blaze seems to have spurred many local residents and second-home owners to take advantage of the free chipping day.
The Wildfire Council expressed its thanks to the property owners, Ryan Barwick and Grand Adventures, on whose land the chipping day was held for their patience as workers completed the chipping process.
White said Grand Lake’s chipping day is typically one of the busiest days for the program each summer but added that he felt the Golf Course Fire was a factor in the high volume of material that was brought by local property owners. Grand Lake Fire’s District Administrator Cheryl Dale called the turnout “phenomenal.”
According to data provided by White, Grand Lake residents spent a total of 1,063 hours working to remove wood and other fuel sources from their properties for chipping day and treated a total of 89 acres of land. Comparing Grand Lake’s figures from this year to the other chipping days already held this summer, in the Fraser Valley and in Granby, highlights the significant influx of citizens utilizing the program. White said citizens of the Fraser Valley brought 69 loads of wood for chipping this summer while Granby area residents brought 81 loads.
The Wildfire Council’s chipping program was started in 2016 and is made possible through grant funding from multiple entities. There is no formal fee charged to citizens taking advantage of the program though donations are accepted, which goes towards continuing the program. White encouraged any citizens who see value in the chipping program, and who wish to see it continue in future years, to express their views to the various entities that held fund the program including Grand County, the Grand Foundation, the Town of Winter Park and the Bureau of Land Management.
The final chipping day of the summer will be held next door to the Kremmling firehouse on Aug. 11. The program is open to all residents and property owners in Grand County.
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Grand County voters will be deciding on a number of issues this November from tax increases to school board memberships. Ballots were mailed out last week and Election Day is Nov. 2.