Fire Mitigation Committee Report, Late Winter 2015

2015 Firewise Day

The North Fork has been recognized as a Firewise Community for ten years. One of the requirements for continuing recognition is holding an annual Firewise Day event. The North Fork’s annual Firewise workshops have been informative and well-attended, covering a range of wildfire and stewardship topics.

This year, the NFLA’s Fire Mitigation Committee will sponsor its Firewise workshop on Wednesday, July 15 2015 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, immediately preceding the Summer Interlocal meeting. Although plans for the event are not yet complete, the committee expects to show a video of fire behavior during the 2014 Pacific Northwest fire season. Tentatively, presenters will include Lincoln Chute, Flathead County Fire Service Area Manager, and committee co-chair Allen Chrisman.   We’ll probably also hear updates from the agency representatives with whom we work. More information about the program will be posted on the NFLA website when the agenda is final.

Hazardous Fuels Grants

Since the fires of 2003, the Fire Mitigation Committee has helped numerous private landowners treat hazardous forest fuels on their properties by obtaining cost-share grants. The grants have paid 75% of the cost of an eligible project and the landowner has contributed the remaining 25%.

We are currently working on our fourth grant, this one in the amount of $91,000. One of our priorities for the grant is to reduce fuel accumulations along the lower stretch of Trail Creek Road, where it passes through private property. Treating fuels there will improve ingress and egress for landowners, allow safer access for firefighters, and afford an escape route over the Whitefish Divide. Committee members are contacting landowners to discuss the program and to determine their interest in participation.

Lincoln Chute has obtained approval from the Flathead County commissioners to use a county chipper to help dispose of slash generated along Trail Creek Road. We’ll need to show substantial, wide-spread benefit to warrant use of the equipment. Landowners also will need to cut slash material to size and align it along the roadside to facilitate handling.

More information about participation in the grant program is available from Bill Swope, who may be reached at 406-250-9812 or at bhswope@gmail.com.

Article written by

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