Authored by: Jennifer Hinderman, FAC Amabassador
Knowing and understanding your role in a community that deals with
wildland fire issues is one of the most important components of building a
wildfire resilient community. Each stakeholder
has a valid and significant role to play; whether it’s a firefighter, homeowner,
land manager, government official, or others, they are all an important part of
the complete picture.
No matter whether you own 1 acre or 500 acres, as a private forest
landowner you have a considerable role to play in the process of community
resiliency to wildfire. Today 57% of our
forestlands in the U.S. are privately owned.* This
means that you have the potential to make a significant impact on wildland fire
prevention and protection on both small and large scales.
The role of private forest landowners is challenging and loaded with
responsibility. Management decisions
can have significant lasting effects; positive or negative depending on the
decisions that are made. When it comes
to wildland fire, the healthier the forest, the less likely it is to burn
catastrophically. Many forest ecosystems
have evolved with fire as a contributor to biodiversity and habitat vigor. Having a fire burn through your forest is not
automatically a negative thing. It
becomes negative when it becomes catastrophic, and it becomes catastrophic when
there are lives and property affected.
How do you reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfire in your
(These are broad recommendations.
Specific treatments should be developed for each site based on the
- Manage for the survival of healthy trees and
remove the unhealthy ones.
- Trees that are in an overcrowded stand will not
get enough light and water and are stressed.
Stressed trees are more susceptible to insect infestations and
- Thin out stressed and unhealthy trees.
- Remove invasive species that out-compete native vegetation.
ladder fuels – create a vertical separation between taller trees and lower
growing vegetation so that a ground fire cannot climb into the canopy.
- Prune trees up leaving at least 2/3 of the live
- Thin out dense underbrush
- Remove slash
- Under the right circumstances and in the
appropriate locations prescribed burning can reduce the costs of vegetation
control, improve wildlife habitat, and improve native plant communities.
What are the benefits of taking on such responsibility? The benefits of espousing this role are both
personal and extensive:
- Protection of your family and property
- The healthier the forest, the less likely it is
to carry fire that will cause destruction
- Protection of your neighbors
- Protection of our firefighter heroes
- Protection of your investment
- Protection and improvement of the watershed
- Soil health
- Water quality
- Wildlife habitat
- Fish habitat
- Biodiversity of species
- Air quality (carbon sequestration)
You have the power to help protect people and property while at the
same time improving the health of our watersheds. As a private forest landowner you play an
integral role in the wildfire resilience of the community and ecosystem. Acting on this responsibility is crucial as climate
change is causing conditions that result in more frequent and intense wildland
fires. Know your role; love your forest;
protect your community.