Practicing wildfire mitigation in Boulder County is not only smart, but it's also less expensive than ever.

The county's Land Use Department announced Tuesday that, as part of its Forest Health Outreach Program, it will offer financial assistance to mountain communities working to reduce fire danger through wood-chipping programs.

Towns, communities, organizations, homeowner associations and fire protection districts are eligible for a 50 percent reimbursement for costs of chipping and chip transportation. That's a 10 percent increase from last year, though the maximum total community reimbursement of $4,000 remains unchanged.

"We want to empower and encourage all forest landowners to be active stewards of their forests," said Ryan Ludlow, Boulder County outreach forester.

To qualify for funding, participants must train with any of several county-approved experts prior to a scheduled chipping event. This is the first year the educational component has been required, but Ludlow said it will be a catalyst for greater community awareness and landowner participation.

"These mini-workshops are a great way to get to know your neighbors and leverage each of your individual strengths," Ludlow said. "Wildfires don't care about property boundaries, and neighbors must work together to accomplish their shared goals."

In addition to the reimbursement program, Boulder County has established forestry sort yards in Nederland and Allenspark where residents can drop off slash and logs for free.

The Land Use Department is also hoping to launch a program this spring on smart landscaping. The program will include, among other things, a lesson on fire-safe plants.

"We want wildfire mitigation to look good," Ludlow said.

Those interested in the chipping reimbursement program can apply at bouldercounty.org/foresthealth by March 1.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Alex Burness at 303-473-1361 or burnessa@dailycamera.com.