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For the week of June 26 - July 2, 2002


Firebreak started around Sun Valley

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley has begun cutting a 150-foot-wide swath across hillsides of sagebrush on property owned by the Weyyakin Homeowners Association and Sun Valley Co.

With help from a federal grant, the city of Sun Valley is beginning to cut a fire break between potential wild fire fuels and homes. This break, which is more than a quarter mile long and is as wide as 150 feet, is behind the Weyyakin subdivision south of Ketchum and is on property owned by the Weyyakin homeowners. Express photo by Willy Cook

The protective firebreak is possible because of a $137,000 federal grant Sun Valley secured following the 2000 summer wildfire season, which grabbed the attention of Washington, D.C., lawmakers. Swaths protecting nearly all of Sun Valley are pending only a hearing this July by the Sun Valley Elkhorn Association, Sun Valley Fire Chief Jeff Carnes said.

Carnes said the decisions to go ahead with the project follows three public hearings last summer. He said residents at those hearings seemed to favor the concept, but were concerned about the eventual appearance. He said he hopes the cuts made last week behind the Weyyakin subdivision will help alleviate some of the public concern.

Additionally, because most of the cuts are planned for private property, property owners have been included in project contemplation.

"We’ve talked to all the homeowners and everybody who borders it," Carnes said.

The sagebrush and other shrubs are cut using a giant track hoe with a brush cutter attached to a 70-foot arm. The implement, which works much like a weed eater, weighs about 2,800 pounds. It leaves about six inches of native plants and grasses in its wake.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.