Residents, local, state and federal fire agency representatives collaborate in a

A few days ago I received a call from a rural Nevadan resident. He had recently moved to Nevada from Utah and had questions about creating a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). Immediately, I knew these important and frequently asked questions could be answered at our Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities 4th Annual Conference. However, let’s first take a step back and define a CWPP and discuss the benefits of creating and updating this document.

For those who don’t know, a CWPP describes the wildfire hazards and outlines mitigation measures for a defined area or community. It allows the community to work collaboratively with government agencies in the process.

The benefits of a CWPP may include:

  • Opportunity to increase community capacity by working together.
  • Relationships are formed between communities, fire departments or other emergency responders and resource management agencies tasked with hazardous fuels reduction.
  • Opportunity to establish a locally appropriate definition and boundary for the Wildland-Urban Interface.
  • Fuels-reduction projects that are identified in a CWPP receive priority for funding and implementation by federal and state agencies.
  • It may streamline federal planning process for fuels reduction work. For example, if a federal agency is planning  a fuel-reduction project to implement a recommendation in a CWPP that lies within the interface and is located no farther than 1 ½ miles from the community boundary, the federal agency does not need to analyze other alternatives.
  • The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are to spend not less than 50 percent of the funds allocated for hazardous fuel-reduction projects in the interface as defined in a CWPP.

Not only is it beneficial to have a CWPP, but an updated CWPP is also important because it keeps the community’s specific hazards current, involves the community’s stake holders in the planning process, and includes the updated conditions in the area such as overgrown vegetation or work that has already been completed in the community.

If you are interested in learning how to update or create a CWPP for your community  join us at The Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities 4th Annual Conference where speakers will address this and how to utilize the CWPP template on the Living With Fire website. You can bet I’ll be there absorbing this important information!

The conference is Monday, March 12 from 8:00 am- 5:00 pm at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno. Registration is free, but space is limited.

To view the conference agenda

To register for the conference 

headshot of Jamie Roice-GomesJamie Roice-Gomes is the outreach coordinator with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Living with Fire Program.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a Master of Arts in Interactive Environmental Journalism. She was a public relations assistant for Conrad Communications, a public information officer intern at the Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, and a Biological Science Technician at the USDA-Agriculture Research Service. She also enjoys volleyball, the Great Basin Desert, and spending time with family. Contact Jamie at 775-336-0261 or roicej@unce.unr.edu.

 

 

DS Inspection Pic.smTalking with my friend and neighbor over coffee this morning, the subject came up that in spite of high winds and drought this past summer, we escaped with no real occurrence of wildfire to threaten our homes.  Oh sure, there was smoke in the air and daily reports, not to mention pictures,  of the extreme flames and wicked burning of the King Fire in California but no real danger close to home this year.  “Just a run of good luck” my neighbor said shaking her head.  “I know” I responded, “but one of these days our luck is going to run out and that smoke and those flames are going to be knocking on our doors.”   Unfortunately, my friend has the same feeling as many others in the neighborhood: there is nothing we can do about wildfire. If it is going to burn, we will just deal with it when it happens.  I quickly set her straight, telling her there is a lot we can do before we smell smoke and the embers start flying. But it’s going to take the whole neighborhood, everyone in the community to get in gear.  “That will take some real effort,” she said as she headed for the door, “If you see a way I can help let me know.”

I thought about what she said and she was right of course, it will take some effort.  But nothing worth doing is free from effort and right now, as winter approaches, is the perfect time to get this started.  I know that as a community we are vulnerable to the devastation that accompanies wildfire.  I don’t want anybody’s home to burn down, especially mine, and I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.   I also know we are going to need help.  I am no expert when it comes to fire and firefighting and I don’t know anyone who is.  But, I bet right now, with the fire danger down, is a good time, maybe the best time, to call on my local fire department to give us a hand.  I am certain they will have professionals that can give us advice on just how vulnerable we are and what we need to do to reduce the risk we face.  And, there are no doubt experts from the Federal agencies that oversee the land around us that would also be willing to help out.  But for that to happen, I know we must show that as a community of people we are ready to do our part.  Wildfire is not like earthquakes and tornadoes. Unlike those disasters, there is a great deal we can do prior to the fire starting to affect the way the fire burns and increase our chance of survival.  So, first I need to get a planning group of interested neighbors together and outline the steps we need to take to get this community energized and organized, perhaps joining the new Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities. I just learned about that at a conference held in October, and you can learn more here.

I’ll bet an invitation for dessert and coffee would bring some neighbors together and get us started.  And, I am sure the folks at Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire Program would give us a hand.  I need just a little more coffee and then… to the phone.

Cheers!

Natalie