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Kohl's Ranch

Kohl's Tonto Creek Subdivision Inc. Homeowner's Association (commonly known as Kohl's Ranch) is a rural community of approximately 121 homes located 18 miles east of Payson, Arizona in Gila County. Many of the homes border Tonto Creek, which flows all year long and some homes border the banks of Indian Garden Spring Creek, which flows seasonally. The area's dense vegetation includes towering Ponderosa pine trees, juniper, oak and riparian vegetation. The Christopher Kohl's Fire Department, a volunteer staffed fire district, provides fire protection and emergency medical services to the subdivision. They rely on water tanker fire trucks and the gravity fed hydrant system installed in portions of the development.

Kohl's RanchKohl's Ranch can be found on most maps. It was originally homesteaded in the late 1800's and acquired by the Kohl's family in 1917. It was a working ranch and lodge until approximately 1944. The area was subdivided beginning in 1952 and a new lodge and hotel, still adjacent to the subdivision, were built in 1966. Approximately 90% of the homes are recreational, secondary residences. Many homeowners use them only during the summer.

The Kohl's Tonto Creek Subdivision Homeowner's Association, Inc. is a voluntary organization of Kohl's Ranch homeowners, and approximately 85% of the homeowners belong. While original CC&R's exist for the community as a whole, the HOA does not possess any authority to implement or enforce rules or regulations.

After the nearby Rodeo-Chedeski fire of 2002 destroyed over 500,000 acres of forest, a small group of Kohl's Ranch residents began initial Firewise education of the community by distributing brochures. During the following two years Firewise education was expanded with more educational materials, the addition of a community website and guest speakers from the US Forest Service, Arizona State Land Department and the Christopher Kohl's Fire Department at the bi-annual homeowner meetings.

Kohl's RanchIn July 2005, the homeowners voted overwhelmingly to take action to pursue a Firewise Communities/USA designation. A Firewise Committee was formed to develop a management plan and to encourage at least 50% of the homeowners to agree to property risk assessments. This was a very aggressive goal for a first-time community. Residents worked diligently toward its goal with the hands-on assistance of an approved risk assessor from the Arizona State Land Department, a University of Arizona Cooperative Extension specialist and a volunteer from the Christopher Kohl's Fire Department. Six months and hundreds of 'people hours' later, with a Firewise Committee member present at every assessment, 75% of the homeowners (90 properties) had received wildfire risk assessments and the Firewise management plan and application were ready to be submitted.

During this time, many homeowners initiated fuel reduction and fire safety practices on their properties. Several homeowners were initially reluctant to remove some of their pine trees and vegetation, but afterwards, they were amazed at how their safety and views had improved. To quote one resident, "I can now see the forest through the trees!" Fuel reduction and fire suppression system improvements are now the top priorities of Kohl's Ranch and efforts through fundraising and grant applications will be made to achieve these objectives.

Read more about Kohl's Tonto Creek Subdivision.