FireWise of Southwest Colorado inspires, motivates, educates and serves individuals, organizations and communities joining together to protect lives and property from wildfire.
The FireWise Council meets on the 3rd Tuesday every other month beginning in January. Meetings are held at the San Juan Public Lands Center (FS/BLM Office), 15 Burnett Court, Durango from 4:30 – 7:00 PM. A light dinner is served.
In addition to the Program Director and County Coordinators, the following individuals serve on the Steering Committee which oversees the budget and helps guide our FireWise programs.
Board of Directors Chair and Neighborhood Ambassador for Deer Valley Estates
Les is a retired Recreation and Park Director, with 35 years of service in various locations throughout California. His last 22 years were spent in the San Bernardino Mountains, where he had a great deal of experience working with the local USFS on many projects. He has written many grants for development projects, with a high rate of success. Les has a Master Degree in Recreation and Park Administration and has served on several Statewide Boards as well as an elected Director on a local Fire, Water and Sewer District. Quality-of-life issues are what brought Les to Colorado, and to the Deer Valley Estates subdivision. Once settled into a new home, Les became involved with FireWise of Southwest Colorado and has served as the Ambassador for Deer Valley Estates since 2006. Les also wrote the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Deer Valley Estates and helped the subdivision attain Firewise Communities USA recognition.
Vice Chair and Neighborhood Ambassador for Falls Creek Ranch (La Plata County)
A native of Phoenix, Paulette holds a BA in Education from Arizona State University and a MA in Educational Technology from the University of Northern Iowa. She has educated students from pre-school to graduate school in Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado. She received the 2010 William Funk Award for Community Building from the Colorado Nonprofit Association for establishing the multi-tenant nonprofit center focused on education called The Commons in collaboration with the Southwest Conservation Corps. As a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in the Minneapolis region, she has worked to improve public safety on the waterways and has seen firsthand to dramatic results of improving the quality of water in streams, rivers, and lakes. She has served as the Falls Creek Ranch Firewise Ambassador since 2015.
In 1999, she and her husband Clyde moved to Durango where she served as Executive Director of the Durango Adult Education Center for 14 years, retiring in 2013. Education, service to others, and collaboration are her core values and they are the essence of FireWise. She and Clyde have been active in area fire mitigation work since moving to Durango and are pleased to see so many residents take forest health and fire mitigation work seriously.
Treasurer and Neighborhood Ambassador for Pine Ridge/Wapiti Rim (Montezuma County)
Phillip Ayers received a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He worked as a Civil Engineer, Project Manager, and Program Manager for 32 years with the Department of the Interior, the last 27 years with the National Park Service. The NPS used a project funding application and selection process that was quite similar to the process of applying for grants. He retired at the end of 2011 and moved from the Denver, Colorado area to Mancos, Colorado, with his wife Julie. Phil is a volunteer FireWise Ambassador near Summit Lake in Montezuma County, and is very interested in promoting fire mitigation and preparedness efforts.
Secretary and Neighborhood Ambassador for Loma Linda HOA (Archuleta County)
Al Myatt retired from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Forestry Services in October of 2015. His forestry career spanned 41 years. From the mid 1970’s until his retirement he was the Director of the Forest Regeneration and Tree Improvement Programs for Oklahoma, as well as the Forest Management operations throughout the Great Plains in Central and Western Oklahoma.
He holds dual Bachelor’s Degrees from Purdue University in Wildlife Biology and Forestry. While attending Purdue University, Al held positions in the dorm as Resident Assistant and Facility Sponsor. He also drove the Mascot (Boiler Maker Special) and assisted with media, marketing, photographic and public relations work.
While attending Purdue University Al was employed for several summers by the US Forest Service in Idaho on the Powell Ranger District cruising timber, wildfire suppression, tree planting and other forest management practices.
Throughout his career, Al has authored and co-authored numerous forestry publications and chaired several national and regional meetings, as well as partnerships with numerous companies and organizations, such as Huber Engineered Woods, OGE and Weyerhaeuser Corp. He has also served as a member and chair of the local community planning commission for over twenty-five years.
Al has also spent numerous hours in career development training across a broad range of technical, safety, management, leadership and related fields, as well as FireWise.
G. Sam Foster:
Neighborhood Ambassador for The Ranch (La Plata County)
G. Sam Foster retired in 2014 after a 38-year career in forestry and natural resources research and started a consulting career with Trees and Trees Associates based in Durango. His education included college degrees in forestry at the University of Tennessee and Oregon State University. His long career included stints with forest industry (3 companies for a total of 12 years), the US Forest Service (23 years) and two universities (3 years at Mississippi State University as Dean of the College of Forestry). Dr. Foster finished his career as the Director of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS), based in Ft. Collins, CO, serving the twelve states in the Intermountain West. Sam worked with many of the scientists in the RMRS on wildland fire issues. This cadre of scientists included those at the Fire Lab in Missoula, MT. He also represented R&D in the Forest Service internally and externally on wildland fire issues.