Protecting Great Lakes Forests with the State Fire Assistance Program

With support from the USDA Forest Service’s State Fire Assistance program, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is achieving goals outlined in the state’s Forest Action Plan.

Every few years, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact, identifies a common fire problem and creates a multi-year fire prevention campaign. The latest campaign has addressed ember awareness. The state was faced with a problem that debris burning fires were caused by individuals who had obtained a proper permit, but the responsible party failed to extinguish their fire before leaving. Overnight, embers rekindled, escaped and caused a wildfire on the following day.

As a result, five state and provincial agencies in the great lakes region launched an ember awareness campaign focused on educating the public about fire prevention. TV advertisements, restaurant placemats, flyers, display banners, newspaper ads, and a three minute video were created to be distributed during peak fire season this year. Key messages included embers left behind can remain hot for days, even weeks and the importance of making certain a fire is out by using plenty of water, stirring and repeating until cold.

“The relationships that we have built among our partners within the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact have allowed us to maximize our fire prevention efforts. The ember awareness campaign has been a great success for us here in Wisconsin,” said Paul DeLong, State Forester.

In FY2015, the effort will focus more on the protection from embers in the event a wildfire occurs and target seasonal homeowners located in fire prone areas. The goal is to encourage the public to take necessary steps to improve their cabin’s chances of survival, without firefighter intervention.

The campaign was adopted among five great lakes agencies in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ontario and Manitoba. The agencies have shared in the production costs on many of the educational materials, resulting in a more efficient use of resources. The 2016-2017 fire prevention effort will focus on fire weather awareness.

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