April 27, 2009 Brush fire north of Coolbaugh Township, Keith R. Stevenson/Pocono Record
The Pocono Mountains of north-eastern Pennsylvania encompass the Delaware State Forest, six designated natural areas, seven state parks and a national park preserve. This area of natural beauty has long been an escape for newlyweds and vacationers. Nestled among the scenic vistas are numerous homeowner associations.
In early March, I met with Levi Gelnett, Wildfire Prevention Specialist of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, to discuss these communities, which are situated in this natural, fire-prone area. Brush fires ignite annually in this scrub oak/timber fuel type. Every few years larger wildfires, from 1,000 to 2,000 acres, occur. From 2001- 2005, several of these homeowners associations, aware of their wildfire risk, became Pennsylvania Firewise Communities. Levi thought many of these associations might be interested in the national Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program®, because of the opportunity to renew annually, which helps communities continually work towards reducing their vulnerability to wildfire.
I am pleased to report that after contacting these homeowner associations, nine have requested Firewise Communities/USA information to present to their boards. Two of these associations are ready to begin taking the steps to becoming official Firewise communities.
If your community would like to get involved in Firewise activities, contact your state Firewise liaison or Firewise advisor for your area to help get your started. Our Firewise website also has plenty of tips and resources to help get you started.