Forestry agencies give Hi-Lo/Arrowhead community Firewise Award

Members of the fire Council Hi-Lo/Arrowhead community received a National Firewise Communities Award, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Wende Wilding, Wildland Fire Prevention, Education, Mitigation Specialist, St. George News

BEAVER — The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and the Fishlake National Forest, Beaver Ranger District, presented the community Fire Council Hi-Lo/Arrowhead with a National Firewise Communities Award, as announced in a Thursday release. Hi-Lo/Arrowhead is the 14th of 642 at-risk communities in Utah to receive this award.

In 2000, there was just a handful of residents from the community of Hi-Lo/Arrowhead who acknowledged there was a wildland urban interface fire problem, and so a fire council was formed.

Over the last 15 years, Hi-Lo/Arrowhead Fire Council has continually engaged in “fire safe” activities and efforts. Their first order of business as a council was to find someone to step up and take leadership. Linda Mesinar was the “spark plug” that took on the role. She knew, however, that she could not do it alone, according to Thursday’s release, and began to collaborate and coordinate within and outside the community to tackle the large and complex wildland fire problem.

Over the years, Mesinar sought assistance from those that have been there from the beginning: John Schmidt and George Humphreys with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands; Wende Wilding and others from the U.S. Forest Service; property owners Jerry and Susan Smith, Keith and Beverlee Erickson and Cindy Franks; and many other participants who have made the Fire Council successful.

The Division of Fire and State Lands has aided the communities by having “Chipper Days,” a two-day event during which the community spends time trimming, raking and cutting down dead fuels around their homes.

Beaver County Fire Warden George Humphreys and his fuels crew run a chipper machine disposing of all the materials that the community collects. The Beaver Ranger District in the Fishlake National Forest fuels, and fire crews have completed, an approximate 140-acre fuel break around the perimeter of the Hi-Lo/Arrowhead  community. The district plans to continue with this fuel treatment project, the Thursday release said.

The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program seeks to encourage and acknowledge community action that minimizes loss of homes to wildfire. 

Community residents that have been recognized as Firewise Communities/USA receive several benefits, including: an understanding of simple and practical concepts of what they can do to minimize the potential of losing their home; that a joint effort with other community members means shared risk areas are mitigated to benefit all.

Local fire departments benefit from the activities of the communities through creation of defensible space, firewise landscaping and noncombustible roofs and siding.

Once a community achieves recognition, it also benefits from assistance from the state and federal agencies, including human and financial resources, the release said. When a community begins to help itself to become safer from wildfire, its commitment often translates to viability for grants and other assistance.

More information on the Firewise Communities program can be found here, and more information on fuels projects and wildland fire in Utah can be found here.

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