Team Rubicon

A veteran-led humanitarian organization sent more than 40 volunteers to help with wildfire mitigation on Emerald Mountain in July 2023.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue (SSFR) has started a 4-year effort to mitigate critical infrastructure and improve the fire break along Blackmer Drive this summer.  With grant funding provided by Colorado State Forest Service, chipping equipment has been secured by SSFR to help with fuels reduction throughout the District.  Now, it’s time to get that project moving and Team Rubicon is joining the effort.

After a few discussions between Team Rubicon coordinators, the Routt County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council and SSFR, it was decided that support for the Emerald Mountain project would have a lasting impact and would be a great way to kick off the longer term project.  To supplement the effort, Team Rubicon wanted to provide some direct outreach to residents, so planning around the Fairview neighborhood was added to the agenda.

Alyssa Ingles with OEM worked with Team Rubicon at her previous position in Grand County and said, “The amount of work the Team Rubicon ‘grey shirts’ can complete in a weekend is absolutely incredible. They are consistently some of the most dedicated and motivated volunteers I’ve ever worked with, and they always seem to be having fun.”

Members of Team Rubicon’s planning leadership were in town for RECON on Monday June 19th to look at the identified project areas and visit Steamboat Springs Middle School, where Team Rubicon will set up operations and shelter during their deployment.  “This is perfect,” said Duane Poslusny, Project Manager for Team Rubicon, referring to the spaces available for use at the school.  And on Friday 6/30, the final approval for the mission was received.

The deployment’s first member on site was Tony Disser, who arrived on Tuesday 7/25 to sort out last minute details and co-host an info-session about Team Rubicon at the Veterans Center in Steamboat Springs.  The rest of the crew trickled in on Friday 7/28 and then they were off to the races, working two full shifts on Saturday & Sunday.  During that time, they completed the following:

  • 1.8 acres thinned around the communication towers
  • 9,000 cubic feet of debris in 38 burn piles
  • 1,230 volunteer hours

Additionally, after some pre-canvassing by Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, Team Rubicon helped with education and outreach at the Fairview neighborhood. This critical area would be one of the first stops for a wildfire coming down the mountain. Unfortunately, only 4 households were interested in a no-cost Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) assessment, which is not a great indicator that our local residents take the threat of wildfire seriously. It is, however, a firm indicator that we have a lot of work ahead of us.

To support the deployment, Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council ran a fundraiser to cover all of Team Rubicon’s meals and treated the crew to a night out at Steamboat Pro Rodeo.  More than $10,000 was raised in a short timeframe by our wonderfully generous community, along with free rodeo tickets, snacks by Honey Stinger, discounted catering by Sharon Stone and additional meal and lodging support from Steamboat Resort!

One result of the community’s response is that Team Rubicon is already discussing another deployment next year… potentially for a whole week!

Thanks, Team Rubicon… we’re beyond grateful for the consideration and the partnership.

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