Dec. 17 Community Update

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2020 Wildfire Recovery with county logo

Dec. 17, 2020

Welcome to Boulder County's 2020 Wildfire Recovery newsletter. This communication is intended to share information with homeowners who were impacted by the CalWood and Lefthand Canyon Fires.

Navigating the bumps, twists, and turns of recovery

road intersection

Below you will find some more timely information about your recovery process. If you ever have questions, ideas, or are hitting roadblocks you think we can help with, please reach out to Garry directly or email If your question seems pertinent to the rest of the neighborhood, we will add that information to future newsletters.

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A few resources we talked about that we wanted to share included:


Burnt Tree Disposal

At this time the only place to dispose of burnt trees is the landfill. Boulder County is exploring another option that may become available in the spring if you have remaining trees to dispose of at that time. Stay tuned for updates.

Remodel Vs. New Construction

Some of you have been asking about whether there is an advantage or difference in going through the county’s permitting process whether the foundation is reused or removed. In terms of county permitting, it makes no difference whether the foundation is reused or if it is completely removed and you start again from bare dirt. In both circumstances, Boulder County considers them to be new construction, not a remodel.

If you wish to submit a Building Permit and not go through the more costly and time-consuming Site Plan Review, our current regulations require rebuilding in the same location, same size, same height, etc. If you want to rebuild a larger home in a different location then a full Site Plan Review would be required.

We also want to share some information we received from a local builder. Please know that this is an estimated range and for your purposes you should employ a local general contractor to determine the accurate cost to rebuild your home: “The rebuild is going to depend on the level of amenity and the complexity of the build. Considering BuildSmart, sprinkler etc., and build the level of Custom that was there, the minimum cost is $375 and up to $500 PSF. The trades and the costs are extremely high for labor. Wood has also seen a big jump recently that is supposed to continue.” 

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Considerations for Rebuilding

Boulder County is committed to assisting residents rebuild as safely and simply as possible. In the aftermath of the Calwood and Lefthand Canyon fires, Boulder County is considering amending the Land Use Code regulations to specifically address rebuilding in the burn area. The county’s aim is to allow property owners to rebuild in a timely, safe, and responsible manner. To this end, the county has implemented a “pause” on building permits as we develop a focused approach to rebuild in the Calwood fire area. We are currently reviewing input from the State Geologist and evaluating issues including geologic hazards, erosion control, and long-term wildfire mitigation, etc.

The county is also interested in understanding what modifications property owners may want to make to their pre-existing structures if and when you choose to rebuild. Gaining a sense of the types of changes you are contemplating will help us consider if we can address some of this to provide flexibility in the rebuilding approach we develop. Boulder County staff is currently thinking through an alternative approach to Site Plan Review that can directly focus on and address the relevant issues (and possible changes) in the Calwood area in a streamlined way.

Since Boulder County BuildSmart, the county’s building code requirements and energy efficiency code, may drive your design, we plan on holding some community meetings with property owners in the new year to provide information on this program and answer questions you may have.

Please take a look at the regulations in place through the BuildSmart program. All new construction in Boulder County will need to adhere to the regulations within BuildSmart (this may include adding things like indoor sprinkler systems).

aerial mulching

What do to NOW for Erosion Control

(December – April)

  • Only cut dead tress that pose an immediate threat to your driveway or structure. Wait until spring or summer to determine if partly burned trees will survive. Dead standing trees help reduce erosion and provide wildlife habitat.
  • Use wood chips or weed-free straw mulch to cover your soil between now and spring, before the summer thunderstorms.
  • If you choose to seed any ground, complete seeding between now and the end of April 2020. Plant seeds before you mulch. Make sure to get good seed-to-soil contact by lightly raking after seed distribution.
  • If you choose to replant trees, plan for the early spring to plant.

You can find more post fire resources at:

For site visits about individual property restoration: Sharon Bokan, Small Acreage Coordinator,, 303-678-6176 (leave a message) or cell 720-202-1969 or Vanessa McCracken, Boulder Valley and Longmont Conservation District at 720-815-8842 or email

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Warmth for the Winter

More than 50 quilts were donated from eQuilters for anyone impacted by the 2020 wildfires across our region. There are typical style and patterns as well as kids patterns to choose from. Please reach out to Joycelyn Fankhouser if you are interested in a quilt and she can work with you to arrange pickup or delivery.

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Garry Sanfaçon

Recovery Manager or 

Hannah Hippley

Long Range Planning Manager | Community Planning & Permitting

Joycelyn Fankhouser

Emergency Management Coordinator | Housing & Human Services

Sharon Bokan

Native Plant Master | CSU Extension Office, Parks & Open Space


Kim Sanchez

Deputy DirectorCommunity Planning & Permitting

Therese Glowacki

Resource Management Manager | Parks & Open Space

Gabi Boerkircher

Communications Specialist | Commissioners' Office

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Dec. 7

Dec. 7, 2020

If you missed the United Policyholders (UP) insurance workshop about the first steps after a wildfire and information and guidance on navigating the insurance claim process, you can watch the recording here:

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Dec. 15, 2020

Coming Soon: The recording from the UP Q&A session with claim handling professionals and attorneys will be available for you shortly.