Fire Mitigation Committee Report, Late Winter 2014

2014 Firewise Day

For the ninth year, the North Fork has been recognized as a Firewise Community.  One of the requirements for recognition is holding an annual Firewise Day event.

This year, the Fire Mitigation Committee will sponsor its Firewise workshop on July 16, 2014 from 9:30 to noon, preceding the Summer Interlocal meeting.  The program will include a powerful video about several recent, destructive fires in Colorado.  The fire behavior depicted in the video is similar to that seen in large fires on the North Fork.  A principal message of the video is that firefighters can’t save structures if landowners haven’t done their part by modifying the fuels around them.  Tentatively, several landowners will showcase the fuels modification work that they have done on their properties.  Planning for the workshop continues.

Hazardous Fuels Grants

The DNRC awarded the North Fork its fourth hazardous fuels grant in the Fall of 2013, this one in the amount of $91,000.  Monies are available on a cost-share basis, with the grant paying 75% of the cost of an eligible project and the landowner contributing the remaining 25%.   A primary objective of the grant is to thin vegetation on private land along Trail Creek Road, making it a safer exit route in the event another large fire visits the area.   The committee will be working with private landowners, the Forest Service and possibly Flathead County to accomplish the work.

Funds under the third hazardous fuels grant are almost exhausted.   The grant has been used to connect landowners’ treatments with those on public lands, as well as to treat around homes.  For those interested in applying for grant monies, additional information is available on the NFLA web site.

Mapping Project

The Fire Mitigation Committee hopes to update maps of complementary fuels reduction work that has been done on public and private land since the Wedge Canyon Fire in 2003.  Wally Bennett, Type 1 Incident Commander during the Wedge fire, anticipates that the work will make a big difference in future fire behavior and suppression efforts on the North Fork.  He spoke at our successful and well-attended 2013 Firewise workshop, after visiting many of the sites.  Updated maps would enable the North Fork landowners and their agency partners to see what they have accomplished in the last ten years.

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Molly Shepherd is the Co-Chairperson of the Fire Mitigation Committee and a past President of the NFLA.