By Patrick McKelvey: Founding member and Chair of FireSafe Montana, TriCounty FireSafe Working Group, and Fuels Mitigation Specialist. Click here for the downloadable document.
FireSafe Montana is an organization of Montana citizens who believe in providing the best information to Montana landowners and firefighters on a host of mitigation activities to help restore healthy fire adapted ecosystems and to protect homes and property from wildland fire. Our membership and board of directors represent many disciplines and points of views.
A campaign that FireSafe Montana is initiating is called “Enough is Enough”. This campaign focuses on the many issues of wildland fire in the urban interface. The title of this campaign originates from one of our founding board members reaction to the sobering tragedy of the Yarnell Fire. As you will quickly see, this project is not singly about that incident. The focus is of a much wider scope of “Why, we are…. where we are, at this time, and the conditions of our forests and wildand fuels.”
The “Enough is Enough” campaign will mostly be editorial pieces, public service announcements, and news articles from a diverse collaboration of concerned experts from forestry, fire ecology, wildland fire, fire behavior, large fire management, social aspects of wildland fire, and fire policy development.
FireSafe Montana seeks to present an objective and accurate view on many of the issues that have arisen in wildfire management today. There are a number and variety of programs active today, many with the same sources of funding, in this attempt to inform the public about the issue.
There are parts of this project on which we have not developed agreement among the participants. For example, what is really intended by the use of the term “Survivable Space”. Does it relate to the survival of structures? of residents? of firefighters? Does its use indirectly encourage homeowners to not evacuate in the event of a wildfire? Is “Prepare, Stay and Defend” a message that goes hand in hand with “Survivable Space”? Should firefighters just not attack fire in the WUI? Why is our federal government neighbor not doing the mitigation in our neighborhood on their managed lands? What is difference between a “Fire Adapted Community” and the “Living With Fire” publications? Is there still a “Firewise” program to address planning at the city level? Are the standards the same for a wildland fuel hazard reduction project from one agency to another? Why aren’t local landowners and neighboring private landowners included in federal land management decisions?
Wildland fire is more of a challenge today than it was thirty or even ten years ago. Some would argue that is so because the Wildland Urban Interface is growing larger. Some would say it’s inevitable because the climate is warming. Others argue it’s because of severely restricted management on federal forest lands that has led to unreasonable forest encroachment.
We may not be successful in getting answers to all the questions that are out there, but we want to move the conversation forward…. Because “Enough is Enough!”