Five Ways to Keep Fire on the Agenda – by Dr. Elwood Miller, Coordinator for the Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities
A Fire Adapted Community is one where the people have totally prepared themselves and the place they call home for surviving the inevitable presence of wildfire. To achieve this state of preparation, people need to change the way they think about their vulnerability as well as that of their house and the landscape where they live. They need to include the presence of fire as part of the community culture. Changing the culture of a community requires exposure to information that presents an alternate way of thinking about and picturing the surroundings and the structure, as well as personal behavior. Providing this information is not a “one and done” event but rather a well-planned communication scheme that involves routine and frequent delivery of the message. It means putting fire on the agenda; every agenda available.
In the fall of 2014 twenty seven successful community leaders were interviewed to learn from their experience and identify the methods they employed to keep fire on the agenda in their community. The top five approaches used to change the culture of their community are listed below in rank order of importance:
- Defensible space inspections of the house and landscape. This was consistently reported as the most effective educational tool available.
- Distribution of high quality, professionally prepared material such as that available from the Living With Fire Program and the local fire department. Having this material available at all times and at all community gatherings was an important component of keeping fire on the agenda.
- Personal contact through door-to-door campaigns. No means of communication is more important or effective than personal contact and face-to-face conversation.
- Presentations by respected fire professionals. Taking advantage of every available opportunity to have fire service professionals speak directly to members of the community brings credibility to the fire message. Their involvement also builds trust and creates a strong partnership that reinforces the shift in the community’s culture and enhances efforts to be prepared. Opportunities for presentations may be readily available or may have to be planned as neighborhood get-togethers.
- Routine and frequent distribution of notices, reminders, personal letters, news articles, personal stories, newsletters, and photographs. While all of this takes time and commitment, it is an effective way to keep people reminded that fire is a part of the culture and preparation for its occurrence is critical for the survival of the entire community. The utilization of social media can be very effective in keeping the message alive.
Whether you use one or all of these methods, the most important first step in adapting a community for fire is to create a fire culture. Using these methods will put fire on the agenda and greatly advance the mission of survival.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) today announced the award of up to $4,000,000 in Proposition 1 funds to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) to partner with the California Tahoe Conservancy and the Tahoe Fund to seek acquisition of the Johnson Meadows Property located in South Lake Tahoe. The approximately 209-acre property is the largest privately owned meadow in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the last large private property holding in the lower nine miles of the Upper Truckee River (UTR).
The funding from DFW combines with $4,234,000 awarded to the Tahoe RCD by the California Tahoe Conservancy in March 2016. The Tahoe Fund is also a funding partner and will be seeking to raise an additional $100,000 to help secure the entire $8,315,000 necessary to acquire the Property.
“If completed, the acquisition of the Johnson Meadow Property will be one of the most important public land purchases in the last decade in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” said Kim Boyd, District Manager at the Tahoe RCD. “The Property would connect over 1,000 acres of UTR floodplain in near continuous public ownership within the UTR’s lower nine miles.”
Acquisition of the Property would preserve wildlife habitat and open space, create public access to the UTR, and prevent additional environmental degradation from grazing. Additionally, acquisition of the property could lead to potential future restoration opportunities such as floodplain enhancement, sediment filtration improvement, and wet meadow habitat enrichment.
“This potential acquisition places virtually the entire river corridor in public ownership,” said California Tahoe Conservancy Executive Director Patrick Wright, who noted that the Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and California State Parks have all been working to restore various stretches of the river, the largest watershed in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the highest contributor of fine sediment that impacts the lake’s clarity. The Tahoe RCD hopes to complete negotiations with the land owners to enable the acquisition by the end of 2017.
Last year 570 3rd and 4th grade students attended the first annual Tahoe Farm Day. The event included presentations such as Composting with Worms, Beneficial Bats, and Your Carbon Footprint as well as live animal exhibits! Click here to read the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s article about last year’s successful event!
The Tahoe RCD is seeking volunteers to help out with the 2nd annual Tahoe Farm Day which will be held at Camp Richardson on September 16th, 2014. We need presenters as well as people to help setup and breakdown the event. The event covers the themes of Food, Fiber, Shelter, and Soils. If you would like to volunteer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email, phone number, and topic you are interested in presenting and/or interest in setup and breakdown of the event.
Thank you to our partners at Sustainable Tahoe for producing this beautiful video showcasing the 2013 Tahoe Expo. We are looking forward to another great event!
2014 Tahoe Expo, August 30th: Check out the event website for more information on how to get involved.
Beginning November 1, we are unable to provide assistance to new BMP and Conservation Landscaping Service Requests. However, as time permits, we will continue to assist homeowners and contractors with questions regarding BMP installation and final inspections on Tahoe RCD BMP plans. If you need assistance with an active or existing BMP evaluation please use the ‘request our service’ form at TahoeRCD.org to place yourself on our service request list. No internet access? Please leave your property address, mailing address, email address, your name and phone number. We will contact you within 7 days. Thank you for your patience.
The District’s capacity to provide this cost free BMP incentive program is limited; however, the TRPA has released a new do-it-yourself BMP design tool to enable you to design your own residential retrofit BMPs. Please visit TahoeBMP.org to learn how you can get started. There you will also find the list of contractors who are certified by the TRPA to perform BMP Retrofit Evaluations
If you have immediate questions about TRPA’s BMP retrofit program, please contact the TRPA BMP hotline: (775) 589-5202 or online at TahoeBMP.org.
All Tahoe RCD services are grant funded and are subject to change.
Thank you and have a good day.
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