The Wildfire Mitigation Awards are the highest national honor one can receive for outstanding work and significant program impact in wildfire preparedness and mitigation. The program was established in 2014 by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) in response to an overwhelming number of great wildfire mitigation program efforts happening across the United States.
Past awardees, both individuals and organizations, have displayed outstanding dedication to wildfire mitigation across a broad spectrum of activities. Meet past Wildfire Mitigation Awardees with the links below.
Paul Cada, Vail Fire and Emergency Services | Vail, Colorado
As the Wildland Program Administrator for the Town of Vail’s Fire and Emergency Services, Paul Cada has led fuels reduction projects on over 250 acres and completed wildfire risk assessments on every property in Vail. Paul’s Fire Adapted Vail program earned his town Fire Adapted Community status, and more recently, his social media campaign “Vail Wildfire Ready” resulted in 88 new resident registrations with the Vail Fire Community Connect program and a 100% increase in registrations for the county-wide emergency notification program “EC Alert.” Thanks to Paul’s tireless community outreach efforts, he has inspired awareness not only among permanent residents of Vail, but also among vacation homeowners and thousands of annual visitors.
William “Danny” Blevins, Kentucky Division of Forestry | Morehead, Kentucky
William “Danny” Blevins is well known in eastern Kentucky for promoting wildfire preparedness and mitigation. A volunteer firefighter, fire and rescue instructor, and regional director for the Kentucky Firefighters Association, Danny was instrumental in the development of the Kentucky Fire Commission’s Wildland Firefighter Awareness program, which is now a required course for all Kentucky firefighters. Through his work with the Northeast Rowan County Fire Council (NRCFC), Danny helped Lake Lewman become one of the first Firewise USA communities in the state. Additionally, in 2014, a Triplett Creek Watershed mitigation project co-developed by NRCFC was chosen to receive grant funding by the USDA Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership. Ultimately, the project accomplished wildfire risk assessments on 1,000 homes within the watershed’s wildland-urban interface. In 2018, Danny teamed up with the Kentucky Division of Forestry to plan Kentucky’s first Wildfire Preparedness Day celebration, an event that garnered more than 500 attendees.
Jonathan Riley, Chelan Fire District 1 | Wenatchee, Washington
In the last five years serving as the Chelan Fire District’s first Community Wildfire Liaison, Jon Riley has cultivated the district’s Community Wildfire Program and expanded its role within the community by offering virtual and in-person information sessions, securing grant funding, utilizing new mitigation tools for home assessments, implementing seasonal fuels reduction projects, and partnering with local organizations. Jon forged one such partnership with the non-profit CAFÉ in order to host bilingual presentations on wildfire mitigation for underserved Spanish-speaking community members. He also helped to train CAFÉ staff in providing wildfire risk assessments. Jon’s out-of-the-box thinking—which most recently brought goats to Wenatchee for hazardous fuels reduction—has inspired others, both regionally and nationally, to take action to protect their communities
Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team, Lake Tahoe Basin, Nevada and California
The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT)—comprised of 21 federal, state, local, tribal, and non-profit entities—was formed after the Angora Fire of 2007 to tackle wildfire prevention, fuels reduction, and community preparedness in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Since 2008, TFFT has treated 65,000 acres in the Basin’s wildland-urban interface (WUI) for hazardous fuels. Those efforts paid off during the 2021 Caldor Fire. Without them, the fire would have caused massive destruction to homes and businesses in Meyers and South Lake Tahoe, killed firefighters and residents, and burned thousands of additional acres of forestland. TFFT is now the primary coordinator of wildfire mitigation work in the Basin. TFFT has helped 59 Basin communities become Firewise USA recognized and, through its “Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities” effort, hosted events and workshops that have reached over 18,000 people in-person and another 3,800 people through social media.
Mike Mathis and Chris Colburn, Florida Forest Service | Southport and Tallahassee, Florida
The work of Mike Mathis and Chris Colburn is a shining example of how to quickly mitigate wildfire risk following natural disasters. In October 2018, a Category 5 hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle, leaving 72 million tons of trees broken or uprooted and prime for burning. The Florida Forest Service tasked Mathis and Colburn with developing a plan to address wildfire risk imposed by Hurricane Michael. They hit the ground running, forming emergency strike teams that cleared 574 miles of forest debris on 314 private properties across eight counties. Both Mathis and Colburn were displaced by the storm like so many Floridians, but they continued to work tirelessly, inspiring county administrators to develop wildfire mitigation plans and landowners to participate in wildfire risk property assessments and clearing projects. They helped over 500 residents receive prescribed burn training, held prescribed burn classes for the public, and waged a wildfire prevention campaign to educate residents about dangerous fuel loading. Mathis and Colburn were also instrumental in getting Timber Recovery Block Grant relief to affected forestland owners.
Schelly Olson, Grand Fire Protection District 1 | Granby, Colorado
Schelly Olson, the Assistant Chief of Administration and Community Risk Reduction for the Grand Fire Protection District, founded the all-volunteer Grand County Wildfire Council (GCWC) in 2015 to establish crucial partnerships across local, regional, state, and federal boundaries. The GCWC has since held 26 free chipping service events with over 999 participants, developed a fuels reduction cost-share program that treated over 1,000 acres of private land, created and sold reflective signs that first responders use to navigate smoke-filled properties, and helped several HOAs identify water supplies for wildfire response. With Schelly’s expertise and initiative, her organizations have implemented wildfire mitigation programs across the entirety of Grand County, an area of 1,870 square miles with 15,000 residents.
Marshall Turbeville, Northern Sonoma Fire Protection District/CAL FIRE | Geyserville, CA
As a battalion chief with the CAL FIRE Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit and fire chief for the Northern Sonoma County (NoSoCo) Fire Protection District (FPD), Marshall Turbeville personifies the consummate firefighting professional. Over the course of his career in Northern Sonoma County, Chief Turbeville has secured funding for the creation of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) for Mill Creek and NE Geyserville and CWPP updates for the Lake Sonoma Watershed, Fitch Mountain, and the County of Sonoma (which all together cover upwards of 2,000 square miles and 600,000 residents).
His fuels mitigation work includes establishing, training, and deploying a NoSoCo FPD fuels management team that has provided hundreds of miles of vegetation management services and thousands of residents with defensible space home inspections and counsel for home-hardening. Chief Turbeville has also dramatically improved wildfire mitigation and response as a founding member of COPE Northern Sonoma County, a non-profit fire safe council that covers about 330,000 acres and more than 100,000 residents.
Courtney Haynes, West Region Wildfire Council | Montrose, CO
As a wildfire mitigation specialist for the West Region Wildfire Council (WRWC), Courtney Haynes works with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to serve a six-county-area—called the “West Region”—roughly 5.6 million acres in size. In coordination with CSFS, Courtney regularly makes site visits to assess wildfire risk, recommend home-hardening strategies, and educate homeowners about WRWC’s cost-share program. She has made measurable improvements to the program, including boosting its reach and increasing participation to 134 homeowners (who in turn established defensible space and reduced fuels on 725 acres). In total, her cost-share program work has helped to protect at least 619 homes from wildfire.
Courtney has exceeded all of WRWC’s annual targets by engaging 788 residents across 40 at-risk Wildland Urban Interface/Intermix (WUI) communities in Colorado’s “West Region.” Her leadership has been instrumental in: (1) 485 homeowners in 22 WUI communities disposing of 262,885 cubic feet of slash, (2) Trout Lake (a community in San Miguel County) developing a Community Assessment for wildfire risk, and (3) the Ouray County Land Use Planning Commission strengthening the Wildfire Mitigation Section of its Land Use Code.
Jessica Kirby, Snyderville Basin Recreation District | Park City, UT
Jessica Kirby has profoundly shaped public perceptions of wildland fire. As the acting open space management supervisor for the Snyderville Basin Recreation District, Jessica oversees 2,300 acres of trails and forest. She has formed partnerships with Summit County officials, local fire and sheriff agencies, and homeowners associations to improve existing wildfire emergency response plans, create Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP), and encourage Firewise program participation.
Having lost her own home to wildfire several years ago, Jessica understands the urgency of addressing wildfire risk. She has made it her goal to protect Communities at Risk from wildfire. Navigating limited budgets in multiple communities, Jessica has transformed the landscape in Summit County, improving an emergency access route between three communities, implementing a 50-acre fuel break, treating 200 acres of mixed vegetation, and leading community outreach efforts that challenge the “it won’t happen here” attitude.
Montecito Fire Department | Santa Barbara, CA
The Thomas Fire, the second largest wildfire in California history, burned into Montecito in 2017 after destroying over 1,000 structures in neighboring counties. In Montecito, however, hundreds of residences were protected, and the level of damage was significantly less than anticipated due to proactive mitigation efforts spearheaded by the Montecito Fire Department. Over the past 25 years, the Wildland Fire and Vegetation Management program has grown tremendously. One of their many notable accomplishments includes a Neighborhood Chipping Program that has serviced over 2,400 acres and removed an average of 400 tons of woody vegetation from very high fire hazard severity zones. The Montecito Fire Department has been committed to reducing hazardous fuels, enhancing community wildfire education through defensible space surveys, developing partnerships, and mitigating fire risk in vulnerable areas of the community. Through proactive efforts and dedication, the Montecito Fire Department has partnered with their residents to create a more fire adaptive community, resilient landscape, and safer firefighter response.
Ernie Lory, El Dorado County Fire Safe Council | Placerville, CA
For over five years, Ernie Lory has worked to help the El Dorado County community better prepare for wildfire. As a volunteer, Ernie has personally performed over 100 defensible space evaluations and continues to be the driving force in expanding the community’s defensible space assistance program, now serving 120 residents per year. This program has grown significantly since 2014, and targets assistance to low-income and disadvantaged residents, as well as seniors and veterans. Due to Ernie’s dedication, he has helped create a fire safe environment for vulnerable residents of El Dorado County and continues to actively pursue the goal of wildfire awareness and preparedness.
Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group | Monument, CO
The volunteers of the Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group have made a tremendous impact on residents recovering from the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires. The Tri-Lakes Group worked with individual residents to create defensible space and neighborhood chipping projects, encouraging neighbors to work together and build resiliency. In addition to organizing mitigation workdays, the group has supported over 21 events to foster wildfire resilience including home hardening, evacuation planning, defensible space, and emergency preparedness. This exceptional group of volunteers has not only facilitated extensive on-the-ground mitigation work in the past seven years, but also increased a sense of community among residents, which is key to developing sustainable mitigation efforts.
Byron Bonney, Bitter Root Resource Conservation and Development Area | Hamilton, MT
Since the catastrophic fires of 2000, Byron Bonney has been at the center of hazardous fuels mitigation in Ravalli, Mineral, and Missoula Counties in Montana. Byron has managed a cost-share Hazardous Fuel Mitigation program since 2001 – which has distributed over $7 million in grant funding to date – and overseen the completion of 1,355 forest management projects to reduce wildfire risk. Over 1,000 contractors have contributed to the cost-share program, including 20 logging contractors that survived a down timber market by participating. Through Byron’s leadership, more than 9,500 acres in the Wildland Urban interface were treated and almost 200 homes were protected from fire threat.
City of Pigeon Forge | Pigeon Forge, TN
In recent years, the City of Pigeon Forge has enhanced and expanded their wildland mitigation projects. Their accomplishments include implementing (1) a training for landscaping companies on risk-reducing practices, (2) two neighborhood projects where residents completed home assessments and removed hazardous fuels, and (3) a curbside pick-up program, which in 2017, helped homeowners dispose of nearly 1,200 tons of brush. They also became a nationally recognized Firewise USA site, passed a new ordinance requiring owners of overnight rental cabins to undergo inspections, and initiated a renewed effort to work with the Gatlinburg community, sharing resources and training efforts.
Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership | Flagstaff, AZ
Great Flagstaff Forest Partnership is a community-based, collaborative conservation effort that moves wildland fire mitigation forward. The partnership balances social values and concerns at the local-level by maintaining a diverse membership of dedicated partners. The Fort Tuthill Thinning Project, for instance, utilized six unique treatment prescriptions across federal, state, and privately-owned land and incorporated sustainability planning. Over the years, the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership has positively impacted northern Arizona through collaboration with local, regional, state, and national level stakeholders.
Pat Dwyer, Logtown Fire Safe Council and El Dorado County Fire Safe Council | Logtown, CA
Since becoming chair of the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council in 2013, Pat Dwyer has provided exceptional leadership to establish the organization’s reputation as a model for local councils. Pat’s keen awareness for outreach has led to opportunities for partnership and support. For example, Pat produced a joint Senior Defensible Space Program with El Dorado County’s Friends of Seniors that led to a similar program for veterans. He led an expansion of the Chipping and Green Waste Program, which has served over 4,000 residents and cleared the equivalent of 1,500 acres. He was instrumental in structuring a program to aid all councils in pursuing grant funding and actively contributes to his neighbors’ safety and education.
Paulette Church, Falls Creek Ranch Neighborhood Ambassador Program | Durango, CO
Paulette Church is the driving force organizing mitigation events and educational opportunities for the Falls Creek Ranch community. Her efforts include finding grant funding to purchase two hydraulic dump trailers, arranging for training for high-school and college-aged people to help with hauling and chipping, and organizing community evacuation drills. Paulette organized Falls Creek Ranch’s involvement in the Wildfire Adaptive Partnership slash disposal event, where for the first time ever there was nearly 100 percent participation from the community. Paulette’s impact was evident during the 416 Fire, when all Falls Creek Ranch residents were evacuated safely and no homes were lost. Every firefighter who worked in the subdivision remarked that if it were not for the great work that the community had completed beforehand, there is no doubt that many homes would have been lost.
Rocky Infanger, Tri-County FireSafe Working Group/Wolf Creek Volunteer Fire Department | Helena, MT
Rocky Infanger serves as chairperson of the Tri-County FireSafe Working Group, a program that he has been with since its inception in 1984. Rocky is committed to mitigating the wildland fuel hazard and believes that no firefighter should risk their lives protecting communities where landowners haven’t worked to mitigate wildfire risk. He works hard to educate his community about the risks of wildland fire, delivering numerous presentations and annual “wildfire preparedness” events. It is not only Rocky’s strong relationship with partners, but also his exceptional leadership and problem solving that has led the Tri County Fire Safe Working Group to complete hundreds of mitigation accomplishments in the Montana Counties of Lewis & Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater. This year, as fire chief for the Wolf Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Rocky secured Ready, Set, Go! funding for a fuels reduction project along an evacuation route and encouraged other neighboring chiefs to apply for the program, with three additional grants being awarded so far.
Sunset View Estates | Bend, OR
Sunset View Estates has demonstrated remarkable progress in mitigating wildfire risk. After receiving the highest risk/hazard rating in Deschutes County in 2009, Sunset View Estates responded by implementing comprehensive treatments to the community structures and common areas. By 2013, every property had been treated and the homeowners association began allocating $1,500 annually for property maintenance. Sunset View Estates has become a “Poster Child” not only for the Greater Bend area, but also by the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network. To give an example: in 2018, when a lightning storm hit and ignited a Ponderosa Pine on a vacant lot in the middle of Sunset View Estates, the Bend Fire Department and the Forest Service were able to suppress the fire, keeping to a 10’x10′ size. If the same fire had occurred prior to 2009, it is likely that most of Sunset View Estates would have been lost to wildland fire.
Blue Mountain Forest Stewardship Initiative | Golden, CO
Blue Mountain Forest Stewardship Initiative was created by concerned citizens who saw the need to implement the recommendations in their community’s CWPP. Their primary goal was to expand awareness of wildfire risk among the community’s 350 residents. After reaching out to a number of wildfire experts for assistance and advice, the non-profit (then just six volunteers) was able to create a professional plan of action specific to their community. Today, 5,165 hours of volunteer labor and $80,000 in cash donations have been acquired to support fuel breaks, debris removal, home hazard inspections, equipment, and treatment on roads, residential properties, and a water treatment plant. Because of the initiative, residents have been trained to take action and make a difference in how wildfire affects their community.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad | Durango, CO
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s efforts exemplifies the national message of fire adapted communities: people must take responsibility for where they live and work. Operationally, the railroad takes measures to prevent wildfire starts by watering areas along the tracks before they depart and by sending water cars to follow trains. Additionally, the railroad has supported community groups in removing fuels along railroads and building a fire break. The railroad and the local community members have made a huge impact with their mitigation efforts and shown they are “all in this together” as a community to enhance wildfire preparedness and resilience.
Grizzly Flats Fire Safe Council | Grizzly Flats, CA
The Grizzly Flats Fire Safe Council satisfies all of the critical elements of the Cohesive Strategy with their multi-pronged approach to community involvement in fuels reduction, evacuation planning, defensible space, and infrastructure hardening. They have taken time to participate in county-wide Fire Safe Council projects and mentored communities with the formation and operation of new councils. The council has been awarded state, federal, and other grants – totaling $2 million – to complete more than 17 fuels reduction projects, which altogether treated 1,504 acres and provided 625 defensible space inspections.
Rincon Fire Department | Valley Center, CA
In 2015, the Rincon Fire Department and other stakeholders embarked on an unprecedented plan to protect the community and its citizens from the threat of wildfire. The plan used a three-phased approach: fuels reduction and mitigation, community risk reduction, and outreach. One of the most critical elements of this plan was assuring the work did not disrupt culturally sensitive areas. The project encompassed approximately 650 acres of fuels work, impacting over 900 homes, businesses, and significant infrastructure. For the first time, the Rincon Fire Department brought together key stakeholders to establish and implement an ongoing wildfire mitigation program. This project has provided a roadmap of success for native reservations as well as similar communities in the region and state.
Project Wildfire | Deschutes County, OR
Project Wildfire supports fire-adapted communities in central Oregon through three basic concepts: changing attitudes, changing behavior, and changing the culture of property owners. The “flagship” program of Project Wildfire is Fire Free, which identifies 10 simple steps to provide defensible space. Project Wildfire has become more than just a local initiative as the program now reaches citizens in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, and Klamath Counties. Through grants and direct funding from the Project Wildfire stakeholders, over 125,000 acres have been treated. Seventy-five percent of the acres treated are treated by property owners themselves.
Jesse Cox, Trinity County Fire Safe Council | Weaverville, California
Jesse Cox is the chairman of the Trinity County Fire Safe Council. He has distinguished himself as going “above and beyond” by leading a countywide effort as a volunteer. Jesse has dedicated hundreds of hours promoting the concepts under the umbrella of “not if, but when a wildfire will threaten your community or home.” Under Jesse’s leadership, the Trinity County Fire Safe Council was one of the first to embrace the need for a CWPP. He led the initial effort to complete the plan in 2005 and two subsequent updates in 2010 and 2015. Under his leadership, the council became early adopters of community collaborative and the use of the federal stewardship authorities for conducting fuels reduction work.
Pat McKelvey, Tri-County Firesafe Working Group | Helena, MT
Pat is the program manager for the Tri County Fire Safe Working Group and has leveraged his extensive experience to create public/private partnerships that have led to an educated public and made an impact on risk mitigation in the community. Pat has been the spark plug that has raised awareness through public meetings, radio, and TV spots in the Helena area. Pat has been able to work successfully with various residents, homeowners groups, contractors, fire departments, and state and federal agencies to implement the fuel modification projects that are making a difference. Pat’s efforts and passion has made the Tri County WUI as fire safe as possible.
Abby Watkins, Newaygo County Emergency Services | White Cloud, MI
Abby is an emergency services director who plays a dynamic role in community wildfire risk reduction and wildfire adaptation projects on the ground. Over the years, the public and her cooperators have acknowledged Abby for leading and implementing hazardous fuels reduction projects and wildfire mitigation strategies. Her projects’ hazardous fuels treatments involved multiple groups and agencies and various sources of funding. Abby is constantly trying to find better ways to provide risk reduction for first responders and the public. Her attention to detail, enthusiasm, and dedication are exemplary.
Jeff Dunning, Allstate Insurance | Grass Valley, CA
Jeff is the owner of a local Allstate Insurance agency who became well-versed in wildfire mitigation to aid his clients living in the WUI. He developed a program authorizing the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County to provide independent third-party verification for defensible space. He has helped over 1,000 people over the last six years keep their insurance coverage, saving Nevada County policyholders over $1 million since the programs’ inception. For nearly 20 years, Jeff has been a Fire Safe champion in Nevada County, working to make the community more fire adapted.
Ann Hogan, Town of Riverview | Mountain, WI
Ann formed a committee to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for the town of Riverview after a tornado caused significant damage. The committee completed several projects outlined in their CWPP, including an eight-page activity book for children that has been adopted for statewide use. Ann made the determination that their efforts shouldn’t stop at the town’s border. She engaged neighboring towns and assisted in the opening of two brush collection sites. Within three years, Ann’s CWPP for her town of 1,800 has expanded to three additional towns, now covering close to 12,000 residents. In 2017, the towns of Lakewood, Mountain, and Townsend will become a part of the newly renamed Northern Oconto County CWPP.
Bob Betts, Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission | Prescott, Arizona
As chairperson of the Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission, Bob has coordinated mitigation activities across federal, state, county, and city managed lands. His outreach efforts have directly increased the number of communities and agencies represented at the commission and is largely responsible for the thousands of acres treated each year within the Prescott wildland urban interface. It is largely through Bob’s efforts, and his “all lands, all hands” approach, that the commission has developed into a model organization for implementing fuels mitigation and water restoration efforts across jurisdictional boundaries.
Brianna Binnebose, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands | Salt Lake City, UT
In a little more than two years, Brianna systematically elevated Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) program efforts along the Wasatch Front. Her efforts as the Wasatch Front WUI coordinator included securing funding for the development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans and the implementation of hazardous fuels and other risk reduction projects. She also built a WUI program from scratch working across boundaries in a cohesive fashion to reduce wildfire risk.
Brian Schaffler, USDA Forest Service | Columbia, SC
Brian played a primary role as a catalyst and leader in forming strong partnerships that will serve as a model for further efforts in South Carolina and for the Forest Service. As a forest fire management officer, Brian was key in executing a participating agreement between the Center for Heirs Property Preservation and the Sumter National Forests that addresses mitigating wildfire risk to heirs properties and underserved communities. Brian continued his efforts in co-developing CWPPs in Berkeley, Oconee, and Newberry Counties and played an instrumental role in implementing the action plan of the largest CWPP in one of the highest wildfire prone areas within the State of South Carolina.
Walton Daugherty, City of Helotes Fire Department | Helotes, TX
Chief Daugherty formally launched the Helotes Fire Department Community Wildland Protection Program, encouraging fire departments across the greater San Antonio region and the State of Texas to implement similar programs. He led the development of the Helotes CWPP, which was approved in the fall of 2015. Since then, short-term priorities identified in the CWPP have already been completed, as well as a complex fuels reduction project protecting the Los Reyes Canyons neighborhood. Chief Daugherty was successful in convincing fire departments that cities don’t have to be big to implement proactive fire adapted programs.
City of Borger | Borger, TX
The City of Borger, Texas, participates in a community “trash bash” where residents clean and remove potentially combustible debris from their yards. The city operates a limb drop-off site that is free for all county residents. It also hosts numerous trainings for area fire departments, including for prescribed burning. Last year, the city hired a federally qualified crew of firefighters out of Arizona and New Mexico to assist with wildland mitigation work over the course of five months. In coordination with several other state and local agencies, the City of Borger created the Rural/Urban Interface Hazard Mitigation Program, which sets the standard for programs like it in the State of Texas.
Heather Campbell, Pollock Pines Fire Safe Council | Pollock Pines, CA
After several failed attempts to create a viable Fire Safe Council in the Pollock Pines Community, Heather Campbell was able to establish a vibrant council that has used grants to install fuel breaks. Over one-third of the community’s residents are now involved in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan that she helped execute. In 2014, when the King Fire burned 97,000 acres, residents safely evacuated by using information fliers that were previously distributed door to door by Heather and the Pollock Pines Fire Safe Council. Heather supervised the development of two successful fuel reduction grant proposals and is very active in supervising the field work.
Jim Tencza, Firewise of Southwest Colorado | Bayfield, CO
Jim has been an instrumental member of the Firewise of Southwest Colorado’s Neighborhood Ambassador program. Through the program, he led the promotion of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the Timberdale Ranch Community. Understanding that residents can’t mitigate what they can’t financially afford, Jim made it possible for more than half of the community to participate in mitigation through a cost-share program, which ultimately led to the treatment of approximately 75% of its common space. In addition to these accomplishments, Jim has worked tirelessly as a Neighborhood Ambassador by identifying homes to be assessed during a Home Ignition Zone Workshop through Firewise and by writing letters of support to the La Plata County Commissioners encouraging their continued financial support.
Joanne Drummond, Fire Safe Council of Nevada County | Grass Valley, CA
With her dedication and commitment, Joanne has brought great success to the Fire Safe Council’s many programs. These programs include a free chipping service, a Defensible Space Advisory program, and a Scotch Broom challenge that Joanne created to attack an extremely flammable plant that posed a serious problem in Nevada County. The Fire Safe Council has implemented Firewise in 19 communities under her leadership as executive director and thanks to her collaborative approach to community building.
John T. Mele, Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District | Snowmass Village, CO
John developed a CWPP for the Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District and assisted in the development of the Pitkin County CWPP. Initially met with resistance, John was persistent in utilizing the CWPPs to reduce the wildfire risk they identified. He collaborated with homeowners and county, state, and federal partners to implement successful mitigation projects within the community. His determination changed perceptions and numerous HOAs have no contacted John and the Fire Protection District for mitigation assistance. It is because of John that mitigation work is now being completed throughout the county.
Pete Padelford, Blue Lake Springs Homeowners Association | Arnold, CA
In 2011, Pete took over the VIP program in his homeowners association. He has since expanded the training program to other homeowners associations and recruited more than 50 volunteers to inspect homes. Pete’s efforts also led to the creation of the HWY 4 Firewise Committee, which lead to seven other Firewise communities in the Arnold area. Pete also applied for a CAL FIRE grant on behalf of the homeowners association so that it could construct a fire break to protect Arnold from fires approaching from the east. Pete logs thousands of miles on his personal vehicle year-round in working to protect his community from wildfire.
Rebecca Samulski, Firewise of Southwest Colorado | Dolores, CO
Rebecca has gone above and beyond the expectations of her position at Firewise of Southwest Colorado in her creation of Firewise projects that motivate and engage residents. Some of her many achievements include the development of a Chipper Rental Rebate Program, a Mitigation 101 Workshop, and the creation of the Dolores Watershed and Resilient Forest Collaborative. All of her projects successfully tied into maintaining healthy and resilient landscapes and brought new partners to Firewise.
Santa Fe Fire Department Wildland Division | Santa Fe, NM
Throughout its development, the Santa Fe Fire Department Wildland Division has worked in many ways to protect the Santa Fe area. Over the past two years, the fire department has thinned 67 acres of forest in high risk areas, completed 506 hazard assessments of private properties, and removed over 95 tons of green waste through its pick-up program. The division also helped to improve responder, citizen, and visitor safety, the utilization of new building standards, forest health, and the water supply for the City of Santa Fe.
Yarnell Fire Mitigation Cooperative | Yarnell, AZ
After the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013, the fire district was awarded grant money for fuel break work. Although they were still healing from the tragedy, the Yarnell Fire Department and cooperators installed the fuel breaks, creating the defensible space needed to protect the population of Yarnell and many more residences in the surrounding area from the June 2016 Tenderfoot Fire.
Les Kole, Deer Valley Estates | Bayfield, CO
Les Kole became very involved in Firewise after being evacuated from his home multiple times due to wildfires. As neighborhood ambassador for Deer Valley Estates, he wrote the first CWPP for La Plata County, and in 2010, helped Deer Valley become a Firewise community. To date he has helped mitigate wildfire risk on over 84 properties across 360 acres, develop 26 CWPPs, and establish 11 Firewise communities.
Rich Martinson and the Conover/Land O’Lakes CWPP Committee | Land O’Lakes, WI
Rich Martinson was very influential in helping to rejuvenate the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) group and further the initial goal of the community. He founded two local sites for disposal of wildfire fuels, helping to minimize debris burning across the community. Rich also championed 18 fire department members to receive training on home ignition assessments and home evaluations. Unfortunately, Rich passed away in the summer of 2015. The Conover/Land O’Lakes Community Wildfire Protection Plan Committee is dedicated to continuing to implement projects that meet the goal of their CWPP.
Peggy Beach, Firewise of Southwest Colorado | Durango, CO
Peggy Beach became a volunteer ambassador for Firewise of Southwest Colorado and helped her homeowner’s association rethink their interpretation of the covenants allowing creation of defensible space. Peggy maintains a monthly Firewise bulletin for Loma Linda and has hosted a home ignition zone and defensible space workshop. She also formed and chaired a CWPP committee that drafted a CWPP for the community.
Mark Shadowens, Northstar Fire Department/Northstar Community Services District | Truckee, CA
Mark Shadowens has been the fire chief for the Northstar Fire Department since 2005 and a member of the fire service since 1984. In 2005, he began creating a forestry-fuels management program and a community wildfire protection plan (CWPP). In April 2008, the forestry and fuels management department was established. The community of Northstar has been a Firewise community for seven years, has updated three CWPPs, and has made exceptional strides in mitigation.
City of Austin Wildfire Division | Austin, TX
The City of Austin Wildfire Division developed a CWPP for the City of Austin and Travis County, which together have a total population of over a million people. The division also developed (1) a custom structural triage and assessment training for firefighters, (2) a wildfire hazard assessment training for the public, and (3) a Spanish action guide for Ready, Set, Go! In addition, to supporting Spanish outreach within the community, the division formed a Firewise alliance to accelerate the expansion of the Firewise program in support of Communities at Risk and created a training on conducting structure risk assessments for its operations staff.
Florida Forest Service | Tallahassee, FL
The Florida Forest Service has developed an active prescribed fire program, using a combination of prescribed fires on state forest lands and a unique prescribed burn manager certification program. They have treated more than 246,000 acres of state forests with prescribed fire. They continue their efforts to develop a prescribed fire program that encompasses a long-term, sustained approach to reducing wildfire risk, providing for resiliency across landscapes and keeping forests healthy through prescribed fire.
Tom Austin, West Region Wildfire Council | Montrose, CO
Fire Chief Austin has helped his community by advocating for the West Region Wildfire Council. He has completed multiple CWPPs and led the effort to further identify wildfire risk and reduction in the community. The Loghill Fire Protection District has worked with the council to complete partial wildfire risk assessments on over 600 homes. Tom was also instrumental in designing the district’s initial attack plan, which was implemented to help volunteer fire departments with situational awareness.
Summit County Government | Summit County, CO
The Summit County Chipping Program is an innovative and sustainable program that has allowed the community to perform fuels reduction on private property. The program was funded by a Colorado Division of National Resources grant, which Summit County matched, to further support wildland mitigation programs throughout the community, including over 3,000 homes.
Deer Springs Fire Safe Council | San Diego, CA
The Deer Springs Fire Safe Council was founded after devastating wildfires struck San Diego in 2003. Ever since, the team of dedicated volunteers has provided free chipping for local residents, hosted community education seminars, and published an online newsletter – called Fire Safety News – that reaches more than 1,000 WUI subscribers with wildfire alerts and fire-safe practices.
Lake Travis Fire Rescue | Travis County, TX
The Lake Travis Fire Rescue mitigation program reflects approaches pulled from national research and experience within the unique environmental and climatic conditions encountered in central Texas. During the development of the Austin Travis County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, the Lake Travis Fire Rescue’s mitigation program served as a model for other ESD’s and service areas.
Jonathan Bruno, Coalition for the Upper South Platte | Lake George, CO
As chief operating officer with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Jonathan Bruno leads a wildland fire and fuels reduction crew, a chipper program, and a volunteer program in three communities. He facilitates regional CWPPs and has established an innovative biomass facility. Through Jon’s strong collaboration with others, he motivates and empowers communities and agencies alike.
Elk Springs and Elk Stream Ranch Neighborhood Ambassadors | Montezuma County, CO
Elk Springs and Elk Stream Ranch Neighborhood Ambassadors worked on the first CWPP in Southwest Colorado in 2008. The ambassadors cleared over two miles for fuel breaks in their community. They have used livestock grazing to reduce fuel loads, changed covenants to promote fire resistant materials on homes, and established defensible space on properties. The neighborhood ambassadors offer an outstanding example of mitigating wildfire risk in a community by the community.
Community Wildfire Preparedness Pioneer Awardees
- Ann Grant, Nevada Fire Safe Council & Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities | Reno, NV
- Tom Burns, Warm Springs Mesa Neighborhood Association | Boise, ID
- Ken and Nancy Hasse, Logtown Fire Safe Council and El Dorado County Fire Safe Council | Diamond Springs, CA
- Judy Winzell, Falls Creek Ranch Homeowners Association | Durango, CO
Fire Adapted Communities Fire Service Leadership Awardees
- Chris Barth, Bureau of Land Management | Montrose, CO
- Colorado Springs Wildfire Mitigation Section, Colorado Springs Fire Department/City of Colorado Springs | Colorado Springs, CO
- Florida Forest Service Okeechobee District | Okeechobee, FL
- Jerry McAdams, Boise Fire Department | Boise, ID
- Gregory McLaughlin, New Jersey Forestry Services-Forest Fire Service | Trenton, NJ
- Eric L. Mosley, Georgia Forestry Commission Oconee District | Milledgeville, GA
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Living with Fire Program | Reno, NV
- Thomas Spencer, Texas A&M Forest Service | College Station, TX
Wildfire Mitigation Innovation Awardees
- West Region Wildfire Council | Montrose, CO
- Saws and Slaws | Boulder County, CO
- Travis Lipp, Jerry Derr, and Lieutenant Tim Weaver, Bureau of Land Management | Meade County, SD, and Rapid City Fire Department | Rapid City, SD
- Mitigation and Prevention Department, Texas A&M Forest Service | College Station, TX
- Irene Jerome | Grant County, OR
- Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization | Kamuela, HI
- Caloosahatchee Forestry Center | Fort Myers, FL
- Flagstaff Fire Department Wildland Fire Management Division | Flagstaff, AZ
- Pam Wilson, Firewise of Southwest Colorado and Local Firewise Council | Durango, CO
Contact Cathie Larocca, IAFC Marketing Manager-Wildland, at email@example.com or (703) 537-4820