Carrie Dennett and Faith Berry visited two very unique Arizona Communities. The first visit was to a Homeowners Association meeting in Aravaipa (“Ar-ah-vie-pah”) Canyon East, a community that is part of the Dudleyville Fire District. The second community visit was to the San Carlos Apache Reservation outside of Globe Arizona.
The visit began with a gathering of 22 Aravaipa Canyon East Homeowners on the afternoon of October 12th. The homeowners asked Carrie and Faith to give a presentation on how to become a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site to the board. The residents were eager to learn how they could protect their homes in this unique riparian environment in Arizona. Aravaipa Creek which flow year round has carved a scenic canyon through the Sonoran Desert at the northern end of the Galiuro Mountains in southeastern Arizona. Saguaro cacti dot the canyon slopes, and a mixed-broadleaf riparian forest lines the canyon along the creek. The canyon, up to 1,000 feet deep in places, is home to desert bighorn sheep, javelinas, coatimundis, ringtail cats, and other wildlife. The creek is home to several native fish species and over 200 species of birds live among the cottonwoods, sycamores, willows, ash, and other riparian areas in the canyon. The neighbors were eagerly discussing projects such as improving their water supply for firefighters in the event of a wildfire in order to make their homes and their beautiful canyon safer. The next day Carrie and Faith completed a physical inspection of the community in order to take photographs for their community assessment, the first step in becoming a recognize Firewise Community.
The next stop was the San Carlos Apache Reservation. The San Carlos Reservation is also home to the Geronimo Hotshots. This elite team is one of seven American Indian elite firefighting crews in the United States. They assisted in the collaborative effort to fight the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park this year.
Bob Atlas from the Arizona State Department of Forestry guided Carrie and Faith to the meeting place at the San Carlos Apache Reservation where they met up with Wilfred Steele, the reservation fire prevention. Wilfred explained to Carrie and Faith about some of the fire prevention programs the tribe is already working on including an outreach event to school children which feature’s NFPA’s Sparky. The community has some older homes as well as recently built homes that incorporated many Firewise principals including dual paned windows and boxed eaves. The reservation also boasts a recreational lake San Carlos Lake that was developed as a result of the construction of the Coolidge Dam. Carrie and Faith were given a tour of all the different communities on the reservation in order to take photographs for a community assessment.