Boulder Ranger District Defensible Space Permits


Landowners across Boulder and Gilpin counties preparing their properties to be more resilient against the next wildfire by creating areas of defensible around their homes. To support this important work, the Roosevelt National Forest has completed two environmental analyses (Boulder Defensible Space Project and Forsythe II Project) that allow private landowners to reduce hazardous fuels on National Forest lands around their structures.

Each year, applications will be accepted April 1 through April 30. Upon receipt of the application, resource specialists will evaluate design criteria for each specific location. Defensible space permits will be issued by the Boulder Ranger District before July 1, and work may begin after receipt of the permit.

Mitigation Process

A Defensible Space Permit allow fuels reduction work to occur on Forest Service land in Boulder and northern Gilpin Counties within 300 feet of primary residences and other large permanent structures such as garages, studios and ‘in-law homes. (Note: accessory structures must be located within 200 feet of the primary home. See Figure 1, below). This opportunity will complement defensible space mitigation work that has been completed by private landowners on their property.

Diagram showing a house adjacent to NFS lands with line measured 300 feet towards NFS land

The Colorado State Forest Service’s guidelines for defensible space will provide direction for work on National Forest lands. Private property owners needing to remove hazard trees, hazardous fuels, or create a defensible space on U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to their property must fill out a Boulder Ranger District Defensible Space Application.

On Forest Service land, hazardous fuels shall only be cut by hand with manual equipment (e.g. chainsaws, handsaws, loppers). Landowners will be responsible for removing the debris created from the defensible space treatments from Forest Service land to their private land for disposal utilizing non-mechanized equipment (e.g. carts, wheel barrels, etc.); off-road vehicles and other motorized equipment shall not be used. Cut material shall not be left on Forest Service property.

Note: The Boulder Ranger District covers national forest lands north of Gap Road (CR 2) in Gilpin County to Johnny Park Road (FSR 118). 

Steps to get a Boulder Ranger District Defensible Space Permit

  • Fill out a Boulder Ranger District Defensible Space Application and submit it here from April 1 through April 30.

  • Applications received outside of these dates will not be processed.

  • When we receive your application, we will start the permit process. Please note this process will take some time to allow for resource specialists to review the application and address design criteria (if applicable) as addressed in the National Environmental Policy Act decisions.

  • If applicable, we will contact you for payment information for the mitigation work.

  • We will send you the permit via email. Upon receipt, sign both copies of the permit and email them back to us. This can be an e-signature.

  • Once we receive the signed permit, you will be mailed: Your approved permit with the comprehensive list of rules, instructions, and prescription (if applicable).


Depending on the mitigation area and the volume of trees that will be cut, either a Free-Use Permit or Personal Use Paid Permit will be issued. Determinations will be made by Forest Service personnel whether or not payment is required for the requested work. If payment is required, the applicant will be contacted by phone to facilitate paying for the permit with a credit card.

Payments will be assessed based on the information included in the application and calculated estimates of trees that will be cut. See the table below for an estimated cost of mitigation work on Forest Service land.

A table detailing the fees associated with cutting different number of trees of different sizes

General Information

  • The Colorado State Forest Service is focused on improving forest health and providing wildfire hazard mitigation strategies through technical assistance and outreach to private property owners, local cooperators, and county agencies.

  • If you are thinking about creating defensible space around your home in Boulder County, the best place to start is Wildfire Partners.