Fire & Hazard Mitigation
The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is the transition zone between unoccupied land and human development. As more people realize their dream of living near or in the forest an increasing number of communities, homes, and families are threatened by wildfire every year. Currently, many unmanaged forest lands boarding our communities are faced with an increasing threat of wildfire from degradation by insects, disease, and overstocking. Today, the importance of wildfire and hazard management for community and home protection could not be more important.
Hazardous Fuels Reduction
Northwest Management, Inc. (NMI) has been involved with all aspects of slash hazard reduction ranging from the small homeowner size lot to large scale drainage projects for large timberland owners for more than 30 years. Our goal for every landowner is a reduction in the slash and fire hazard through the use of chipping, broadcast burning, and under-burning services. We will complete all permitting and compliance requirements for State and Federal regulatory laws in order to achieve the desired results and our landowner’s objectives.
- FireSafe Spokane, since its inception, treating over 2,500 homes in northeastern Washington,
- Tri-County Working Group in Helena, Montana since 2001, completing more than 200 home defensible space projects and many miles of road-side hazard treatment,
- Teton County, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) for development, coordination and implementation of defensible space projects,
- West Central Highlands RC&D Hazardous Fuels Treatment (HFT) project in the Garden Valley area of Idaho. Since 2004 our staff have written and implemented over 200 home defensible space plans and projects. NMI has also worked with the RC&D and homeowner associations to hold public meetings, inform individual landowners, develop plans, bid projects, assign contractors for plan implementation, and provide follow-up quality control and assurance.
- A Home Assessment is the process of evaluating a home/structure’s potential risk of ignition by an approaching wildland fire. The assessment consists of a trained fuels specialist and the land/home owner analyzing the property using a standard form that provides an individual score for a number of items including; Topographical Features, Vegetation, Slope, Building Setback, Construction Materials, Placement of Utilities, and Fuel Modification Needs.
- The sum of the individual scores equals the property’s assessment value which can provide fire professionals with the ignition potential of that home/structure as well as where the focus should be to mitigate that potential. The Washington Department of Natural Resources uses Home Assessments to show where (in the state) wildland fire mitigation is needed. This allows the DNR to apply for funding in higher risk areas. The Home Assessment process also affords land/home owners the opportunity to speak with fuels specialists to determine where the land/home owner can improve their defensible space.During the summer of 2013, NMI was retained by the DNR to meet with homeowners to conduct Home Assessments. NMI met with homeowners and completed over 160 Home Assessments during this time frame. NMI has also designed, implemented, and completed numerous fire mitigation projects for many land/home owners throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana.
- Since 2008, we have worked with the BLM and the High Country RC&D in eastern Idaho to develop the Wildfire Services and Education Program, which provides free wildland fire educational opportunities to landowners, local organizations, and counties. The Program also includes a landowner cost share program for implementing defensible space projects and free technical assistance to anyone interested developing hazardous fuels or risk management projects.
Public Education and Outreach
Natural resource-based projects are more successfully and effectively implemented when information sharing with area residents, local communities, or other interested groups is easily accessible and made a priority. Public and private outreach is a key part of effective communication and NMI takes pride in organizing, advertising, and presenting at outreach events, public information meetings, and providing training targeted at gathering input and comments on local projects or providing information and education to interested residents.
Some examples of NMI training are:
- Small and large-scale wildland safety and fire-fighter training
- Urban, Rural and Neighborhood community outreach for implementation of fuels management and defensible space projects.
- Regional mail surveys
- Organization of FIREWISE community cleanup days
NMI utilizes growth simulation and projection models to assist in the development of silvicultural prescriptions and to evaluate the effectiveness of various stand treatments.
Growth models we employ are:
- Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) – from the U.S. Forest Service
- Forest Projection System (FPS) – from Forest Biometrics’
- Stand Projection System (SPS) – from Mason, Bruce and Girard
Cost Share Program Assistance
Activities to enhance a landowner’s property and reduce wildfire risk or improve wildlife habitat can be costly. Fortunately, many State, Federal, and some non-profit organizations offer financial assistance and grants to ensure landowners can actively enhance and manage their property. Typically these grants are made available to landowners through cost share applications. Many of Northwest Management, Inc. clients have utilized and benefited greatly from cost-sharing projects. Talk with one of our staff professionals to see what funding may be available for your property, as NMI is continually monitoring these funding opportunities.
Some examples of projects available for cost-share are:
- Chipping of forest slash and debris
- Pre-commercial thinning
- Brush removal
- Prescribed fire treatment
- Road clearing
- Road crossings (i.e. bridges and culverts)
- Pond construction
- Fish passage structures and stream habitat
- Tree planting and revegetation
Regulatory Compliance and Permitting
Before a forest operation begins, all states, and some counties, have specific rules, permits and regulations that must be applied. States that have similar landscapes often have similar basic rules however, differences often occur in the detailed vocabulary, application and notification processes.
NMI’s leadership in natural resource management since 1984 allows our staff to be well versed in differing regulations from region to region, and state to state. Additionally, NMI’s extensive professional network allows us to easily contact local or state foresters specialized in specific regional regulations, for any unique situations a landowner may encounter.