Norval and his trusty side-kick, ol’ Bessie!
Articles,  Fire Mitigation Events,  Mitigation

Saws & Slaws August News

Application of Fire Ecology by Jody Dickson & Linda Martin
When we are deciding what work we need to do in order to be effective, it helps to have a basic understanding of fire ecology and behavior. Fire ecology looks at fire’s role within an ecosystem, including when and why a wildfire happens as well as the impacts of that fire on the ecosystem. We know that our particular forest ecology is fire-dependent which means there are native plant species that NEED fire in order to be healthy. Since animals, including humans, depend on plants, the plants being healthy is necessary for us and wildlife to be healthy as well. However, it’s all very complicated since there are many variables! The composition of each forest and ecosystem is different, and the conditions during a fire are different. How each of these thing play together make it very hard to predict exactly what will happen in every situation. Even so, we’re still able to detect general patterns that then can help us figure out what we can do to be good stewards of the forest we live in and help ourselves, our neighbors and the firefighters address a fire. We choose to live in this environment. Our presence here has impacts on the ecology. One example of this is that we’ve been suppressing fire in a fire-dependent ecosystem for over 150 years. Our systems being out-of-balance and unhealthy result in conditions that increase the risk of intense fires which can have distinct negative impacts of their own. So it is on us to ensure we are doing what we can to reduce the potential negative impacts of a fire.

This is why we very much appreciate our forestry partners who have the experience and knowledge to make good recommendations for how we can best achieve our goals around forest health and wildfire mitigation. If you are in Boulder County, we cannot recommend enough the Wildfire Partners program that will come do an assessment of your property and structure that takes into account fire ecology and behavior as well as your preferences and desired outcomes to make recommendations for treatment. If you are outside of Boulder County, there are other resources in professional foresters that are able to collaboratively make mitigation plans with property owners. Because of the variables, there is no way that we can ensure perfect protection of our forest, homes and community. However, we can do the work that takes into account our understanding of fire ecology today in order to help our firefighters fight a fire and help our community come through certain wildfire events with fewer devastating impacts.

Featured Volunteer – Norval Olson
This month’s featured volunteer is a super-star! Not only has Norval been volunteering for Saws & Slaws since 2014, but he is also currently serving on our board as our Treasurer. He’s up for helping no matter what work we have planned: hauling slash or firewood, being a sawyer, splitting logs, using a winch to get a hung-up tree down on the ground, and more! He’s worked with us at our normal large events, but he’s also done a fair number of “lone-sawyer” projects. The first time I worked with Norval, it was just the two of us collecting wood off one of the larger Camp Eden Road project sites. He is ALWAYS a joy to work with and has given more than 225 hours of service to Saws & Slaws. Clearly, he has made a real difference for our community AND organization.

When we asked Norval to be our featured volunteer he said: It has been great to meet so many canyon folks both residents and Saws & Slaws volunteers, to work together outdoors while knowing that we’re helping to reduce wildfire threat and also to provide some firewood to canyon folks too!

We also asked Norval our standard featured volunteer questions, and here are his answers:
What’s your favorite Tree?

I believe it’s the Douglas Fir that has the soft needled branches. They’re my favorite.

What neighborhood do you live in?

Camp Eden Road neighborhood

If you had to evacuate right now what would you grab?

We have a 3-tiered list which depends on how much time we have, but generally our clothes/packed bags, prescriptions, photo albums/keepsakes, laptop/harddrives/phones, important papers bag, credit cards/wallet.
How did you find out about Saws and Slaws?

I think it was Mountain Messenger.

What motivates you to devote your time to fire mitigation with Saws and Slaws?

Wildfires in our Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) zone is NOT IF BUT WHEN. All of us should be aware of this and do what we can. Also, it has been great to meet people and see neighborhoods via Saws and Slaws!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten at the Potluck?

It’s all always good but desserts are my weak point.

What’s your favorite thing about Coal Creek Canyon?

The People! Well, then there’s living in the mountains where it’s cooler, the trees are always green (at least most of them), and the views of the divide. Thank you, Norval, for your (and Bessie’s) many years of dedicated service to our community’s wellbeing and safety… as well as keeping our bills paid, registrations and taxes filed, and financial books in line! You know, the super important stuff!! You’re the best!

Upcoming Events:
In July, we finished some work in the Flower Lane area, as well as some small projects on Twin Spruce and Olde Carter Lake Rd. Thank you to our volunteers that helped us on this activity peppered throughout the month.
August 13 th – Join us for a traditional Saws & Slaws event in the Lyttle Dowdle neighborhood. Details can be found on our Facebook page and website.
August TBD – We also plan to do some firewood work to get firewood distributed to those that have ordered firewood from us. If you’d like to volunteer at these more informal events, please let us know as we keep a separate email list for these events.
September TBD – The event will be on Ranch Elsie, but if you have a small or medium sized forest health or fire mitigation need please let us know as we could potentially complement the two projects together.
If you are interested in taking the last (and weather-tentative) spot in our 2022 calendar for the month of
October, please contact us at or at (720) 326-7739. Jeffco-hosted slash days will start October 13th down at the collection site near Blue Mountain for four weeks in a row, so weather-permitting we may focus on hauling slash (and firewood) in October. However, having an event paired with slash hauling can work well, too. This is our last chance for a Saws & Slaws event in 2022. If you aren’t quite ready to act that fast, we, of course, can put you on the calendar for 2023 which will be here before we know it!

Safety Tip of the Month: Take wildfire risk into account when you are away from home, too. If you are planning a vacation to a wildfire prone area, then take a few extra steps to be prepared for a wildfire in that area as well. They are very similar to the ones that you have done at home. Check for fire risk and restrictions in the area you’ll be going to. If there are fire bans in place, make sure you understand what you’ll need to comply with them. This will also help you get a sense of the level of risk. Figure out what notification systems and evacuation processes might be through local agencies responsible for emergency response. Take the time to identify multiple evacuation routes from the area you’ll be in. Especially if you’ll be in a remote area, be sure someone knows where you plan to be and register at trailheads when that is an option so emergency managers know you are in the area. Bring appropriate gear for the specific area you’ll be in. For example, you may want to bring a weather radio or signaling devices. These simple steps can make a big difference in being prepared for a wildfire when you are away from home.