NMI Leads the Way on County and Tribal Fire Mitigation Plans
Northwest Management, Inc. has announced that it has secured County Fire Mitigation contracts for many counties in the West, including nearly half of the land mass of the state of Idaho. The plans are based on guidelines authorized by Congress and the Bush Administration under the National Fire Plan.
As of January 15, 2004, NMI was working on Fire Mitigation Plans for Ada, Adams, Benewah, Canyon, Clearwater, Gem, Idaho, Elmore, Latah, Lewis, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Valley, Washington Counties in Idaho and Fergus, Judith Basin, Petroleum Counties in Montana. NMI is also developing plans for Fort Belknap (Montana), Duck Valley (Idaho & Nevada), and Wind River (Wyoming) Reservations. In all, NMI has assessed over 31 million acres during the implementation of County and Tribal wildfire mitigation plans
Dr. William Schlosser, head of the GIS Department for NMI is the lead staff on the plans. In developing each plan, Dr. Schlosser uses NMI’s state-of-the-art Geographical Information Systems Laboratory to produce high quality and detailed maps of each county.
“The technology we are using at NMI is state-of-art,” said Dr. Schlosser, “ These tools are allowing us to provide analysis at a level we only dreamed about ten years ago. The science is truly remarkable and it is allowing us to greatly assist these counties and Reservations.”
In each county, a Fire Mitigation Plan Committee is created. The committees are made up of rural and wildland fire districts, land managers, elected officials, and others.
The plans include risk analysis at the community level with predictive models for where fires are likely to ignite and where they are likely to spread rapidly once ignited. Each plan also includes a wildfire risk assessment, mapping, field inspections, interviews, and collaboration with the local committee. NMI staff conducts an analysis of fire prone landscapes and make recommendations for potential treatments. Specific fuel modification activities for homes and structures are proposed as part of the analysis.
NMI also conducts a homeowner’s survey in cooperation with local fire officials. The survey is mailed to randomly selected rural homeowners in the county seeking details about home construction materials, proximity to water sources, and other risk factors surrounding homes. NMI and the planning team will be conducting Public Meetings to discuss preliminary findings and to seek public involvement in the planning process.
John McGee was recently hired by NMI to as a policy analyst to assist on many projects including the fire mitigation plans. Mr. McGee was previously Governor Dirk Kempthorne’s (R-ID) policy advisor on agriculture and public lands issues. “These plans are what we had in mind when we (the states) negotiated with the federal government—local decision making on public lands. I am proud to be on the team that is actually implementing the projects.”
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