Draper City and the Unified Fire Authority are working hand in hand to help mitigate fire danger on Traverse Mountain.
The area where firefighters are thinning out the underbrush is located on a steep hill leading right up into homes in the SunCrest neighborhood. Unified Fire Authority Captain Riley Pilgrim says they’re hoping to help reduce the fire risk of one of the most dangerous spots in the state.
“So what we try to do is remove as much of the oak brush as possible, that’s younger, lower or dead," he says. "And that way the taller stuff can keep growing and the lower stuff is removed. And usually the fire travels through the lower fuels, so once those are removed it reduces the risk significantly.”
They’re able to do this work thanks to a $216,000 grant funded by the state under its new catastrophic wildfire reduction strategy.
“So it may be expensive to do the fuel work that we have going on here, but in the long run it’s probably going to save a significant amount of money in property loss and damage to the area and fire suppression costs,” he says.
Draper City Councilman William Rappleye says at first the residents weren’t quite sure what to think about the plan to cut down the trees, but eventually began to understand why it's so important to do it.
“We’re not trying to ruin the aesthetics of the mountainside," Rappleye says. "We know that’s why people live up here. But what we want to do is educate them on how fire works, what the dangers are, and the small things that they can be done to mitigate that risk ahead of time.”
Pilgrim says this is only the beginning of their efforts and that they hope to be able to do similar fuel reduction projects in other areas that they serve.