As we explore how to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously From Wildfire in light of the horrible loss experienced by some communities this year, a good way to begin is by looking at the success of some communities who have embraced a lifestyle of change by integrating Firewise principles into their community’s work, play and planning.
Last month we looked at a community in Oregon that survived two consecutive wildfire events because they had embraced Firewise change. Community-wide preparation for wildfires can make a significant difference in the outcome after a major event. A recent story from The Oregonian on their Oregon Live website highlighted the community of Pine Creek, where residents took the responsibility of living in a fire-prone area to heart. Roy Walker, who leads fire suppression efforts for the Malheur National Forest, believes that Firewise helped prevent destruction of homes on Pine Creek.
This month we are looking at a community that embraced a collaborative effort with an agency partners the Twin Falls Bureau of Land Management, Saw Tooth National Forest, Mid Lake RC&D and the Rock Creek Fire Department to create an infomercial that speaks to residents in their area. This is something anyone can do. The community of Hidden Lakes in Idaho became a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site in 2010. Their community had suffered loss due to a wildfire event. This loss spurred them to embrace Firewise change, which included some incredible messaging efforts aimed at helping residents understand what their risk is and how they can embrace these changes, making the job of defending these homes in the event of a wildfire easier and safer for responding firefighters.
Some of their other successful events over the years from their Firewise renewal information include:
- All homeowners were invited to pile brush around their property and the Rock Creek FD/Mid-Snake RC&D/BLM chipped the piles either on site or hauled to a central location.
- Homeowners received Firewise educational information and also Firewise plants grown by the Hagerman and Shoshone Schools' Firewise nurseries.
- Homeowners received Firewise plants from the Mid-Snake RC&D Schools' Firewise Greenhouse programs.
- On May 18, 2010, Hidden Lakes Subdivision held its fire annual Firewise Day. Activities included home assessments completed for each homeowner by Rock Creek Fire Department volunteers, BLM volunteers and the RC&D. Homeowners were educated on the actions they could take to improve their home ignition. The RC&D provided a Firewise Trailer to serve as a central location for the assessment team to meet and a place where homeowners could get publications.
Are you a part of the wildfire solution in your area? Learn how your community can embrace these changes and share your success with other communities.