When you think of Cape Cod, most of us imagine long stretches of sandy beaches, lobster rolls and bike riding, right? But what about wildfires?
Yup. You heard right. According to Joel Carson, lead consultant from Northeast Forest and Fire Management LLC, who wrote a report about wildfire risk on Cape Cod, the sandy soils and type of vegetation that dominate Barnstable and Plymouth counties are extremely similar to those found in California and conducive for forest fires!
According to the final report, the southern tip of Cotuit, parts of Wellfleet and Eastham are classified as extreme fire risk areas. Most of West Barnstable, including Sandy Neck and the West Barnstable Conservation Area, are also rated as high risk. The report was commissioned through the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Service and the full report can be found on their website.
While wildfires on the Cape are a frightening prospect, according to the report’s authors, homeowners can do something to help protect their homes and property. Preparedness is the real key here. Residents who take the appropriate action ahead of a wildfire threat are more likely to reduce their risk of wildfire damage. So where do you start? Homeowners can find information including tips and handy checklists on the Firewise website. If you haven’t checked it out already, our Fire Adapted Communities initiative website guides you to the next step in wildfire mitigation beyond your home and into your community.
Did you know that Massachusetts has two recognized Firewise communities? Hopps Farm Road Association in Vineyard Haven has been actively participating in wildfire safety mitigation since 2010 and Turkey Hill Community in Holbrook boasts 5 years of Firewise recognition status!
According to my colleague, Molly Mowery, Nature Conservancy fire staff are actively promoting Firewise on Martha’s Vineyard. We love to hear that!
Check out the PBS show called Martha's Vineyard Burn, about prescribed fire on Martha’s Vineyard that is running in various states across the country.
And finally, while the recent Cape Cod findings may seem startling, according to Mr. Carson, Barnstable County has been really proactive in its efforts to reduce wildfire risk. Kudos to Barnstable! You can help your community become more prepared for wildfire, too! Check out the Firewise website to learn how you and your neighbors can work together to stay safer from wildfire. But don’t stop there. Share your success story with us. Your hard work can earn your community official Firewise recognition status!