U.S. drought problem prompts concern for increased wildfire activity this year

Blog Post created by lisamariesinatra Employee on Feb 28, 2013

In a recent New York Times article, Thin Snowpack in West Signals Summer of Drought, author Jack Healy paints a painful picture of what’s likely to come this spring and summer. According to the latest government assessments, more than half of the United States remains deep in drought, which makes climatologists and wildfire experts worried about another summer of damaging wildfire activity.

Minimal snowpack, higher temperatures and even less rain has made the situation so dire that Colorado Senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and other members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation are seeking $20 million in emergency funds to help restore watersheds in the state crippled by the over 1,400 wildfires last year. The word is still out about whether help is on the way.

So while Colorado, like many other western states, are planning for the worst and fine-tuning its plans for combating wildfires this summer, what can we as residents do? Take action and do our part in helping to reduce the risk of damage these wildfires can cause.

Don’t know where to start?

Start small. NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program is a great way for homeowners and neighbors to work on projects around their homes and yards. The website provides easy-to-follow checklists and project ideas you can download and start using today. Got questions? Our Firewise regional advisors are a great resource for information about the program and who to contact in your local area.

Then think big. There are a number of ways an entire community can address wildfire safety. Our Fire Adapted Communities initiative focuses on bringing together not just homeowners but all members of a community to tackle this problem, including civic leaders, fire and emergency responders, and forest and land managers.

How can you do it? Begin by checking out the FAC websitethat provides contact information, program and project ideas from a coalition of wildfire experts dedicated to keeping residents safer from fire. Your community can start having these discussions now.

With fire season nearly upon us, it’s time to act. Everyone can and should get involved. Find out more about what you can do, and start making a difference today!