La Lama Volunteer Fire Department

Community Fire Protection for the Lama Community

The La Lama Fire Department recommends the following process that has the objective of providing the Lama community with maximum feasible protection from wildfires entering the community from the surrounding national forest while at the same time minimizing the potential for fires starting in the community burning into the surrounding forest. This implies intensive treatment of a narrow zone immediately adjacent to community boundaries. Treatment of the forest area outside this zone to restore the forest to its presumed "natural" state by mechanical thinning or controlled burning is of secondary importance to the protection of the community. We also recognize the role of stakeholders within the boundaries of the community in taking responsibility for the protection of their particular stakes.

Protection of community boundaries. The goal is to cause approaching crown fires to drop to the ground and become surface fires. In addition, any surface fire originating within the community will be unlikely to become a crown fire upon crossing the community boundary. To accomplish this, we recommend that a five-hundred foot buffer zone surrounding the community be established. (See yellow zone on the attached map.) In this zone, surface vegetation (primarily scrub oak and other shrub-like vegetation) should be cut and burned. Clumps of trees with contiguous crowns should be identified and isolated from adjacent trees or clumps by creating open space of approximately 30’ from the crown edge. Individual trees should not be removed from these clumps. However, ladder fuels should be eliminated from trees on the border of clumps; pruning of lower branches may also be necessary. Ladder fuels and lower branches should be removed from isolated trees.

Fifty-foot zones along roads within the boundary zone should receive special attention. A plowed fire line approximately 30’-50’ from the road would reduce the likelihood that a fire starting on the road would burn into the forest and would provide a ready-made fire line for fire protection personnel.

Note that on the attached map, much of the area to be treated lies within the burn area of the Hondo fire (east of orange line). Treatment within this area should be minimal. Because crown fires are unlikely to approach Lama from the north, we recommend that the north boundary buffer zone receive minimal or no treatment. The desires of the Lama residents adjacent to this boundary for minimization of adverse visual impact should be addressed. It is vitally important that treatment protocols be specific and that all work done on the ground be carefully and continuously monitored by Forest Service personnel or other fully qualified personnel. It is better to do nothing than to have the forest disfigured by incompetent or illegal work.

Protection of stakeholders’ properties. Individual stakeholders must realize that they are responsible for reducing the fire hazards on their properties. They must also realize that what they do or don’t do impacts their neighbors and indeed the entire community. The goal is to reduce the likelihood that an approaching fire will ignite a building and to reduce the likelihood that fire on their property will spread to nearby property. Specific treatment includes: removing surface fuels in a 30’-40’ zone around buildings; removing ladder fuels and low braches in a 100’ zone; removing flammable trash near buildings and from beneath wood decks; removing filmy curtains from windows; among other treatments. Keep grassy areas mowed or grazed.

Added by RH: Everyone at the 10/28/01 La Lama Fire Department meeting approved of this letter. The attendees at that meeting were:

Roy Blaz, Bill Carman, Rick Dove, Bud Wilson, Curtis Millsap, Ray Zara, Bob Renwick, Bill Reifsnyder, Miles Hinton, and Rita Hall