Gov. Polis celebrates wildfire prevention efforts near Woodland Park on Colorado Day

Governor Polis celebrates wildfire prevention efforts near Woodland Park on Colorado Day
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:58 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 7:18 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - As Colorado turns 146, Gov. Jared Polis and other state officials spent Colorado Day celebrating the efforts of local groups working to prevent wildfires.

The governor joined AmeriCorps and Mile High Youth Corps in Green Mountain Falls near Woodland Park Monday morning. There, those groups have been working to thin out the forest to not only prevent wildfires from starting, but also make them easier to fight once they do.

“It’s not a question of if,” Polis said, “it’s a question of when there’s gonna be the next fire in these areas.”

As of Aug. 1, Phillip Ponce, a member of Mile High, said they have thinned out almost 27 acres of forest.

“For this whole area, it’s definitely just, like, a minor part,” Ponce said, “but it really does make a huge difference when it comes down to protect in the forest and protecting homes.”

These homes put Colorado in a unique position. It means that these groups need to worry about protecting homes as well as the natural landscape.

Because of this, Polis said he helped add state funds in addition to money from the American Rescue Plan for these efforts to help speed up the process. AmeriCorps also got federal funds last September to put their members in Colorado in the first place.

“We know we have to move as fast as we can because we don’t know where the next fire is going to be,” Polis said.

Ponce said that the visit from state officials meant a lot to him, personally.

“I just love the recognition that this crew is getting,” he said. “And it’s really awesome to see our state leaders come here and see what we are doing on the ground rather than just hearing about it and saying ‘great work’ from Denver or whatever.”

The state officials, which included Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, told 11 News that they enjoyed seeing how these groups are not only protecting the forest, but also saving lives.

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