Minnesota Family Woodland Conference brings community together around Firewise

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Apr 9, 2012

Marty Kasinskas Wisconsin WildlandUrban Interface Forester Kasinskas, Wisconsin Wildland/Urban Interface Forester

FTX 90 demo at Fond du Lac 90 demo at Fond du Lac

Last month I attended the Minnesota Family Woodland Conference in Duluth. This conference was sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Forestry Association, the US Forest Service and the Saint John’s Arboretum. Approximately 500 landowners attended the conference, which offered more than 60 classes, 4 workshops and 5 site tours.  Six of the classes and one of the tours dealt with Firewise principles. The conference also had an exhibit hall that drew in over 30 vendors offering a variety of products and information. NFPA had a Firewise booth at the expo.

I attended the Minnesota Firewise Tour, a visit to Fond du Lac, Minnesota’s only recognized Firewise Communities/USA site. The tour was attended by 10 people from Minnesota and Wisconsin. When we arrived at the demonstration site, workers from the Fond du Lac Reservation gave us a demonstration of some of their brush removing equipment. They showed us how the Fecon FTX 90 was used to clear brush. This mulcher made quick work of an area of juvenile pine trees and other brush. After the demonstration, we were taken to a local home where they had almost completed a Firewise defensible space project. We were able to see what the area looked like before the project by looking across the street into a forested area. The entire project looked natural and created an excellent defensible space around the house.

On Saturday the classes began and what a variety of classes they had! Homeowners could choose up to six different sessions dealing with living in the forest. The classes contained a lot of great information but the real learning came from networking. I was able to meet several people from Wisconsin that lived in communities that have mitigation projects going on but have not applied for their Firewise Communities/USA recognition yet. The people attending were extremely friendly and were interested in learning how to keep their homes safe. This is especially true of this year with the warm/dry winter the area experienced. When I wasn’t in class, I was at the booth talking to homeowners and handing out Firewise information. It was truly a great experience and I hope that Minnesota will be able to hold this conference again. I urge all homeowners to attend conferences like this one to learn more about creating defensible spaces and how to live in the forest safely! My hat’s off to Larry Himanga and his staff at the DNR for a wonderful conference!