#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
Every year, fire departments across Colorado are called to protect the state’s land and communities from fire and other natural disasters. El Pomar has been proud to support Colorado’s volunteer fire departments through the Wildland Fire Fund since 2002. From supporting the purchase of new equipment to providing money for mitigation efforts, the Wildland Fire Fund works to help Colorado’s volunteer firefighters improve their outstanding work.
Volunteer Fire Departments and Fire Protection Districts
In June 2002, the Hayman Fire burned more than 138,000 acres in an area 35 miles northwest of Colorado Springs—the largest fire Colorado has experienced to date. The same summer also saw the Missionary Ridge Fire scorch nearly 72,000 acres outside of Durango, making the 2002 fire season one of the most devastating in Colorado history. In response to these disasters, El Pomar Foundation created the Wildland Fire Fund to address the emergency needs of Colorado’s volunteer firefighting agencies.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 75% of registered fire departments in Colorado are either entirely or mostly composed of volunteers. Combatting blazes in rugged mountain landscapes is expensive under the best circumstances and nearly impossible under the worst. In a state where so much land is vulnerable to wildfire, it is vital that Colorado communities support local agencies and the exceptional work of volunteer firefighters.
In 2004, the Wildland Fire Fund made grants that totaled more than $207,000 to 128 volunteer fire departments and fire protection districts across Colorado, and the Fund has continued to provide support to all corners of the state in the years since. When the Waldo Canyon Fire terrorized the Colorado Springs community in 2012, destroying 346 homes and resulting in over $450 million in damages, El Pomar used the Wildland Fire Fund to make $250,000 in grants to assist local agencies. To date, the Wildland Fire Fund has provided more than $5.5 million to help Colorado’s fire departments battle wildfires and support residents who are adversely affected by these disasters.
El Pomar in 2004:
El Pomar provided more than 750 grants totaling $14 million in 2004. Large capital grants recipients included the Pikes Peak Center, YMCA of Pueblo, Children’s Hospital Colorado, and Peak Vista Community Health Centers. The EPYCS initiative and the Wildland Fire Fund ensured that Foundation grant making reached diverse communities across the state, but the competitive process also served Colorado’s geographic diversity. Competitive grantees ranged from the Town of Ordway to the Wray Rehabilitation and Activities Center, from Roaring Fork Friends of the Theater in Carbondale to the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped in Denver.
Images from El Pomar's collection
Spotlight by Andrew Parker