Recently, Nick Harrison the Firewise State Liaison in TX and Ron Smith, a representative from one of the 70 communities in Texas that participate in the national Firewise Communities,USA® program shared an accomplishment that demonstrates what can be achieved when residents and local government work together to reduce wildfire risk. Here's their success story: The North Shore Firewise Organization is a group of concerned Texas citizens collaborating to reduce wildfire risks within the communities on the north shore of Lake Travis, about 30 miles northwest of Austin. Participants in the organization represent residents from Lago Vista, Jonestown, Point Venture and Waterford.
In February 2015, City Council Member Ron Smith (and charter North Shore Firewise member) asked City Manager Melissa Byrne-Vossmer to support a Firewise Demonstration Project that would be located along a major thoroughfare. The city manager approved the request and assigned the Lago Vista Street Department to head the effort along with participation from the Travis County Fire Department.
The project was implemented in a single day during June and included twenty-three participants from the city’s street department; Travis County Emergency Service Division and four Firewise Communities. Close to 3 acres of property were mitigated that day with 350 trees being limbed and 50 additional juniper trees removed; which generated 300 cubic yards of mulch. In addition to the benefits of mitigating the fire danger, comments have been received from local residents and businesses on the attractive aesthetics of the work that was completed.
By working together collaboratively, the North Shore Firewise Organization demonstrated the efforts that can be accomplished along with the social capital generated by partnering and working with a wide-range of stakeholders.
The City of Lago Vista, received their national Firewise Communities, USA® recognition during December 2011. Lago Vista’s population is approximately 6,000 and covers 16 square miles of a predominately oak and juniper landscape located throughout the city’s wildland/urban interface between Austin and the central Texas Hill Country.