National Wildfire Mitigation Awards recognize leaders in fire risk reduction

February 15, 2024
Maui Wildfire

Recognizing excellence in wildfire mitigation

The National Wildfire Mitigation Awards committee has recently announced the recipients of this year’s honors, spotlighting individuals and organizations for their exceptional commitment to reducing wildfire risk within communities.

Established by the collaboration of four cosponsors, including 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, the awards aim to highlight the significant societal benefits of wildfire mitigation efforts.

Award recipients lead by example

This year’s Wildfire Mitigation Awards (WMAs) spotlighted efforts in Boulder County, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah, recognizing them for their innovative approaches and leadership in the field of wildfire mitigation.

Wildfire Partners in Boulder County has been acknowledged for its comprehensive mitigation strategies, community outreach, and grant-making initiatives aimed at its 330,000 residents.

Since its inception in 2014, the program has expanded from offering free home assessments to providing education, advising, and chipping services to communities, including free services to elderly residents through partnerships with local youth programs.

Their recent rebate program for homeowners to mitigate wildfire risk on their properties has set a precedent for similar initiatives across North America.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Color Country and Paria River Fuels Team in Salt Lake City was recognized for their wildfire mitigation projects covering over 89,154 acres in the past three years, surpassing their hazardous fuel treatment goals.

Their comprehensive approach includes mechanical mulching, chaining, and hand thinning, supplemented by chemical treatments and replanting of native vegetation to restore habitats and reduce post-fire erosion.

Leaders in wildfire mitigation speak out

Michele Steinberg, director of the NFPA wildfire division, commended the recipients: “The winners of this year’s WMA awards exemplify innovative, impactful steps that can be taken to effectively reduce the threat of wildfires among populations at highest risk.

“Their tremendous efforts, which are most deserving of this year’s honor, serve as roadmaps for exemplary wildfire mitigation.”

Scott Phillips, NASF President and South Carolina State Forester, emphasized the importance of collaboration in wildfire mitigation: “This year’s recipients demonstrate the critical nature of these partnerships and their significant impact on both the health of our nation’s forests and the vitality of American communities.”

IAFC President and Board Chair Chief John S. Butler highlighted the evolving challenges of wildfire management in the context of climate change: “I am thrilled to extend my congratulations to both Wildfire Partners from Boulder, CO, and the Bureau of Land Management Color Country and Paria River Fuels Team from Salt Lake City, UT, for their well-earned accolades.”

The awards will be formally presented at the Wildland-Urban Interface Conference in Reno, Nevada, on March 27, 2024, including a virtual meet-and-greet with the WMA winners and partner leaders.

FSJA Comment

The announcement of the Wildfire Mitigation Awards reflects a growing acknowledgment of the essential role that proactive wildfire mitigation plays in safeguarding communities and ecosystems.

By recognizing these efforts, the awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams but and encourage further innovation and collaboration in the field.

The work of this year’s recipients demonstrates a multifaceted approach to wildfire risk reduction, from individual property assessments to large-scale land management projects, underscoring the importance of both local action and broader strategic planning.

As wildfires continue to pose significant challenges worldwide, the lessons and strategies shared by these leaders are invaluable resources for communities seeking to enhance their resilience to fire threats.

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