Rural fire districts get extra funds from Douglas County

County splits $100,000 among five agencies that help protect Pike National Forest

Posted 2/16/18

Douglas County has approved splitting $100,000 in federal funds among the local fire districts that help protect the portion of Pike National Forest located in Douglas County. Those agencies are: …

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Rural fire districts get extra funds from Douglas County

County splits $100,000 among five agencies that help protect Pike National Forest

Posted

Douglas County has approved splitting $100,000 in federal funds among the local fire districts that help protect the portion of Pike National Forest located in Douglas County.

Those agencies are: Jackson 105 Fire Protection District, Larkspur Fire Protection District, Mountain Communities Volunteer Fire Protection District, North Fork Fire Protection District and West Douglas County Fire Protection District.

In 2017, the agencies responded to 150 calls in Pike National Forest. For those services, the county has provided them payment in lieu of taxes funds each year since 2002 to help supplement their budgets. Douglas County receives the payment in lieu of taxes funds to offset losses in property tax spent on county services for non-taxable federal land in the county.

Money was divided between the agencies based on how many times they responded to the forest. The leading agency was Mountain Communities, which responded to the forest 54 times in 2017.

Fire chiefs told county commissioners at the commissioners' Feb. 13 meeting the annual financial gift allows them to purchase equipment or pursue other capital projects they wouldn't otherwise have the money for.

“This funding that you guys provide us really goes a long way to help these small agencies,” said North Fork Fire Chief Curt Rogers.

Mountain Communities Fire Chief Steve Brown agreed.

“Our tax base is only about $70,000,” he said. “So, it doesn't go very far when $25,000 goes to insurance alone.”

The fire chief from each district spoke during the meeting and shared how they intend to use their funds. Among the list were updated radio equipment, gear for new members, wildland fire equipment, replacing an old ambulance and placing the money in savings to one day purchase a water-storage tank for the area.

“We have figured that one of our main needs is water,” said West Douglas Fire Chief Terry Thompson.

Commissioners commended the districts for their work protecting the forest and for their uses of the money, with Commissioner Roger Partridge saying putting the money toward one-time expenses, as opposed to maintenance or operation costs, was good stewardship.

“I just want to personally thank all of you for the fine job that you do,” Commissioner David Weaver said.

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