Local state, county effort targets wildfires

Monday, October 8, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. Local counties are collaborating with the Nebraska Forest Service to create a Community Wildfire Protection Plan to effectively prepare for and manage wildfire and to improve communication among agencies that respond to wildfire in southwest Nebraska. It is important that everyone who works with land management, fire, and community preparedness has an opportunity to provide input.

The CWPP area includes all of Chase, Dundy, Hayes, Hitchcock, Keith, Perkins, and Red Willow Counties, the southern quarter of Frontier County, and the western third of Lincoln County. Landowners in counties that adopt the plan will be eligible to apply for federal and state cost-share funds for vegetative fuels reduction and other hazard mitigation efforts in at-risk areas within the CWPP boundaries. The plan may also provide increased opportunities for counties, municipalities, and rural fire districts to seek grant funding for activities related to fire protection.

The plan, part of a statewide network of Community Wildfire Protection Plans, provides readily-accessible information useful to emergency responders from outside the area. The CWPP consolidates and relays critical information needed for responders in unfamiliar terrain. Each county can include details vital to protecting its first responders, residents, and property.

A CWPP is a tool for fire departments, agencies, emergency managers, public officials, and land managers to use when addressing wildfire concerns. It contains a fire mitigation plan for each county that includes:

Community profile (area description, roads, land use, location of at-risk areas)

Wildfire risk assessment (fire history, fire hazard, protection capabilities and infrastructure)

Structure analysis (fire risk rating and ignitability)

Fuel reduction recommendations

Emergency operations (responsibilities, capabilities, partners, mutual aid agreements)

Recommendations for improving community preparedness

Contact information and equipment lists for rural fire departments

Feedback from county residents may include topics such as identification of ingress / egress routes and safe zones for citizens, structures and critical infrastructure (highways, cell towers, bridges, schools, etc.), areas with homes or developments in high-risk areas, and high-risk ignition sources.

People may have additional concerns or suggestions. All ideas are welcome. For further information or to provide comments, call 402-684-2290 or email sbenson4@unl.edu

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