Perry Park is located in rapidly-growing Douglas County, Colorado. It is a bedroom and retirement-oriented community situated between Denver and Colorado Springs. With over 600 existing homes, Perry Park has a potential buildout of 1400 structures. Construction began in the late 1960's. Its residents are predominantly younger families, middle-level management empty nesters and pre-retirees. Typically, they are highly educated and affluent.
Perry Park abuts the South Platte Ranger District of the Pike National Forest. Most of the homes are located on treed sites consisting of ponderosa pine, gambel oak, Rocky Mountain juniper or Douglas-fir. It is predominantly a second-growth forest that has re-grown into a fuel type typical of western forests. The community was evacuated during the Hayman Fire (138,000 acres) of June 2002.
In late 2000, the board of directors of the Perry Park Metropolitan District undertook the task of addressing the potential wildfire problem, and received a Colorado State Fire Assistance Grant of $45,000 in 2001. This was leveraged into over $161,000 in cash and in-kind contributions by the community toward becoming Firewise. The community received a second grant for 2002 of $100,000. The matching In-kind reported to date will double this amount. In two years, the effort has exceeded over $500,000 with over a three-to-one match with grant funds.
The Perry Park Firewise program has embraced a values-based approach. Early surveys told the board that wildlife and forest were as important as homes. Educational and informational efforts have targeted these values. The message "Saving the Forest=Saving the Wildlife=Protecting Property Values=Being Firewise" has increased participation. A second key component of the program is slash disposal that works for the community. Fuel treated in 2002 is triple the amount treated in 2001.
From the program's inception, partnerships have been critical to its success. Over 18 partners now participate, including the City of Denver. The Denver City Forester is accepting mulch generated through the slash disposal program, calling the effort "Trees Saving Trees." The mulch will be used to protect the drought-stressed urban forest.