REALTORS® Expand Wildfire Education and Mitigation Efforts
With active wildfires burning across the state, Colorado REALTORS® are expanding their efforts to educate homeowners about the dangers of wildfires, especially to those living in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) areas, through a program designed to help connect homeowners willing to mitigate their properties and reduce wildfire risks with information and resources in their local communities. The Colorado Project Wildfire website (coloradoprojectwildfire.com), provides residents with direct links to wildfire related organizations and resources that exist in specific communities across the state.
The Colorado Association of REALTORS® launched Project Wildfire in 2015 to help (1) raise awareness of the increasing danger of wildfires in our state, (2) to activate the Association’s network of 23,000 REALTORS® in providing information and support to homeowners living in high risk areas and (3) to advocate for monetary incentives for homeowners who take concrete steps to make their properties less at risk.
Last week firefighters in Colorado were battling the Beaver Creek, Cold Springs and Hayden Creek fires with a combined 31,500 acres ablaze, 2,000 people displaced and more than $2 million dollars spent to date. With the state’s WUI areas expected to grow by 300 percent over the next 15 years, the wildfire threat and the number of people who will be affected are not likely to diminish.
Fire officials across Colorado have credited the mitigation efforts of some homeowners for the ability to save select homes and structures in this 2016 wildfire season.
“While it’s always so difficult to see the impact that wildfires have on our state and our fellow Coloradans, we’ve been encouraged by the news that mitigation efforts have helped alleviate possible damage and destruction of homes and help prevent loss of lives,” said Bonnie Smith, chair of the Colorado Association of REALTORS® Project Wildfire program. “We will continue to be proactive in helping educate not only our members but the tens of thousands of Colorado homeowners that are living in these WUI areas, about the vast resources that are available in their local communities that can help them mitigate their properties and be prepared for the growing risk wildfires present.”
Since its launch, Project Wildfire has established partnerships with like-minded fire-prevention organizations, including the Colorado and U.S. Forest Service; Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Conrol; Colorado Firewise Communities; West Region Wildfire Council, Fire Adapted Colorado and many more. In addition, local REALTOR® associations throughout the state have launched complimentary programs to activate their members in promoting awareness and mitigation.
“Colorado REALTORS® believe that education, combined with monetary incentives and access to local resources are the most effective ways to address future wildfire damage,” said Smith.
Earlier this year, CAR actively supported legislation which created a wildfire mitigation income tax deduction. That bill, adopted during the 2016 legislative session, allows for a tax deduction of 100% of the cost of mitigation, up to $2,500, over the next three years. The association believes the tax deduction will make it more attractive for many homeowners in high risk areas to mitigate their properties.
“Colorado REALTORS® are fully committed to protecting individual property rights and promoting the value of homeownership,” added Smith. “We’re confident that our proactive efforts to educate, advocate and match residents with local resources can help reduce or prevent the destruction of land, property and lives.”
For more information visit https://www.coloradorealtors.com/projectwildfire/