Wildfire Mitigation is Essential - tips from California

This article from the Washington Post outlines some excellent tips from homeowners who survived the Camp Fire in California with their structures (and lives) intact.

In case there is any doubt - wildfire mitigation, preparation and awareness is the best thing we can do to prepare for fire when it comes through. This article is really good and provides some excellent tips that piggy back on mitigation tips that many of us have already begun working on!

A quote from the article:

"Many fire-prevention measures can be cheaply addressed by homeowners: Clear pine needles and other flammable debris from roofs, rain gutters, decks and yards. Avoid stacking firewood directly against a house. Border the home with bare-soil flower gardens, rather than bark mulch. Replace wooden fences with materials that don’t burn. Install mesh screens over vents to prevent smoldering material from getting inside. Surround homes with fire-resistant hardwood trees, like aspen, oaks and maples, which can form a heat shield and wind damper during a conflagration."


A large open dumpster has been delivered to the subdivision so that members can get rid of some of those bulky house cleaning items. Old chairs, appliances, dressers, etc. Dumpster will be located at Willow Place, three streets inside the gate above Mill Run. This dumpster is for use by residents ONLY and will remain on site until filled.

Refrigerators and freezers MUST BE DRAINED of freon and motors removed

NO Tires

NO Dirt, rocks, or cement

NO Paint

NO Electronic devices

ALL items must fit within the walls of the dumpster

Disassemble items as much as much as possible

NOT intended for construction or remodeling projects

State and Local Landfill Regulations govern what is allowed and is strictly enforced and may result in fines.

Jack Zeman, Chairman Zapata Homeowners Association zemanswi@gmail.com


Draft Covenants Revised Version June 2018

The governance committee has made changes to the draft covenants that were submitted to the membership for a vote last year. The vote narrowly passed in September 2018, but the margin was not wide enough to warrant passage. The board submitted the covenants with a petition to approve, which went before a judge earlier this year. The judge did not agree with our position that we had enough votes for passage when voting members not in good standing (I.e. in arrears with their dues payments) were not counted and he did not approve our petition. 

The governance committee has incorporated changes that took into consideration several points of concern amongst the membership. The board is submitting this current draft for review by the membership. At the August 4 annual meeting of the membership, the board will take a vote by members in attendance, and their proxies, on whether or not to pursue a second vote. The process of taking a second vote would follow the same process last year: the draft amended covenants would be mailed to the membership two times, an open forum questions and answers session would be advertised and held for the membership to attend and discuss, and the vote would be conducted with a third-party receiving the ballots and counting the results. The estimated cost to remount the vote would be about $5000, depending on the size of the packet (there is an option to reduce the number of pages, reducing the mailing costs.)

Please take the time to review the attached DRAFT AMENDED COVENANTS OF THE ZAPATA HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION and please attend the annual meeting on Saturday, August 4.

Gate Location Review

The Board of Directors reviewed and discussed at length the possibility of moving the gate to a location at the entrance of the subdivision off of CO 150 at the February meeting. Among concerns commonly expressed are preventing dumping in the ZHA dumpster, preventing package theft and discouraging non-resident fishing in the lower lake.

Cost expenditures needed to relocate the gate include running electricity to the road; creating a new, substantial, fence and barrier to entry across a wide expanse that currently has no containment; rerouting entrance road patterns to funnel traffic through one gate; moving the post office boxes, and running fiber optic cable to power the security cameras. Estimates start at $68,000 and reach around $100,000. 

A project of this scope would require a special double assessment of the entire membership to pay for the project. Following discussion, the Board concluded that it would take decades to recover the cost of moving the gate to pay for extra dumpster pulls in the summer and fish in the pond. Security for parcel delivery has been achieved by relocating the parcel box to a location within the subdivision. The Board has decided not to pursue relocation of the gate at this time.

Home Fire Damage Prevention

The Zapata HOA is a member of the Firewise Communities and receives access to information provided by the parent organization - the National Fire Prevention Association.  They are doing a multi-part series on homeowner tips to help reduce and limit loss in the event of a fire.

This is the first article on addressing under-eave vulnerabilities for structures including home and garage. Click HERE to access the article.

Wildfire Preparedness Day Event

Thanks to the almost 30 ZHA neighbors who came out to learn about fire safety and prevention and to do wildfire mitigation on common property on Saturday, May 5!  The event covered a basic overview of fire season in our region and in Zapata specifically. Included in the event was an overview of tools and equipment that the Fire Committee has been assembling for use fighting or holding off brush fires while waiting for the arrival of the Mosca/Hooper Fire Department. Local forester Sam Scavo did a more extensive explanation of brush fire tools and their use, and helped Fire Committee chair John Barnes demonstrate the use of fire backpacks and our fire trailers. Members in attendance were able to test out the fire backpacks and the fire trailer sprayers. 

After the demonstration, members broke into teams and hauled over 10 large loads of slash away from common property roadsides to the burn pit.

The ZHA received a grant of $500 from State Farm to promote and support the event. Zapata is part of the Wildfire Communities, a project of the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association), and annual events such as our community day on May 5 fulfill our requirement to do outreach, education and fire prevention. The ZHA was one of 150 communities to receive grant money nationwide, and one of 15 in Colorado.

Thanks to Tony Oswald for the photos.


Extreme Drought Conditions for Alamosa County

The National Weather Service has published a map and update of drought conditions across Colorado. Alamosa County is in the area of Extreme Drought Conditions due to lower than normal precipitation and higher than normal temperatures over the past several months.

"Warm and dry conditions across the region over the past several months, combined with abundant cured fuels, has allowed for moderate to high fire danger to develop and persist across much of South Central and Southeast Colorado. Over the past month, occasional windy periods associated with passing weather systems, allowed for several wildfires to develop and quickly spread across the area. The warm, dry and windy weather has also prompted area land management agencies to enact new fire restrictions.

The latest information on fire bans and restrictions can be found at:


The ZHA Board has called for a 100% ban on outdoor fires during this summer or until the drought has ended. This includes outdoor fires and burning, smoking cigarettes outside, and use of chainsaws and equipment that can throw sparks.


Governance Committee Meeting

The Zapata Homeowners' Association Governance Committee will meet from 3-5 p.m. Monday, May 14, 2018, at the home of Nancy Starling Ross, 225 Big Bear Road, Zapata Subdivision, to review covenant updates. If there is time, review of the proposed vicious dog policy will be considered along with fines for the same and fines for illegal dumping.

Erin Smith, chairman, governance

Petition to Amend Covenants Denied

Judge Martin Gonzales has written and sent his order denying the ZHA petition to amend the covenants. The ZHA governance committee met on Thursday, April 26 to discuss the order and will bring their recommendation to the full board, where the decision will be reviewed. The next scheduled meeting of the full board of directors is Friday, May 4, 2018 at the Mosca Community Center. To read the full summary by the judge, click here.