Douglas County’s five rural fire protection districts that respond to incidents in the Pike National Forest area received needed funds to help them manage wildland fires, medical emergencies and structure fires.
“Our rural fire districts are very often the first responders on an incident in the Pike National Forest and our ‘hard, heavy, fast’ approach to wildfire response relies on our investment in and partnership with them,” said Douglas County Commissioner and Board Chair, Lora Thomas.
The fire districts were awarded a total of $100,000 by the Board of Douglas County Commissioners—funds that come to the County annually from the federal government as Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). Like many other local governments in the U.S. that have non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries, Douglas County receives PILT funds to help offset losses in local property taxes spent on the utilization of County services on non-taxable federal lands.
“Forty-eight percent of Douglas County is open space, and 140,000 acres – a little over one-quarter of the County – is the Pike,” said County Commissioner and Board Vice Chair, Abe Laydon. “These partnerships with the fire districts that respond in the forest are critically important to all of us in the County.”
The five fire districts report they will use the money in 2021 to update wildland fire fighting and personal protection equipment, provide training, purchase new rescue equipment, plan for water storage and improve their communication mechanisms.
“It is great to be handling the business of wildland fire response now so we will be prepared when fire season is upon us,” said County Commissioner George Teal, “we are grateful to these fire teams for their thoughtful and innovative approaches to wildfire suppression.”
The PILT funds, awarded by the Board at their Feb. 23 Business Meeting, were distributed to the five agencies based on the number of calls they made during the year, at an average of $636 per call. Awards were as follows:
- Jackson 105 Fire Protection District: $17,201.60 (27 calls)
- Larkspur Fire Protection District: $4,481.60 (7 calls)
- Mountain Communities Volunteer Fire Protection District: $22,925.60 (36 calls)
- North Fork Fire Protection District: $23,561.60 (37 calls)
- West Douglas Fire Protection District: $31,829.60 (50 calls)
Beginning in 2002, Douglas County has designated a portion of its PILT money each year to provide supplemental funding for the five rural fire districts.
Wildfire mitigation and risk reduction require everyone in our community to participate. Learn more about what you can do to prepare for wildfire and reduce your risk.