by Ali Ulwelling

Black-backed Woodpecker on Fire-killed Tree – Photo Credit: Audubon7

Rick Trembath’s presentation at last month’s general meeting blended his interest in wildfires and birds, so we’d like to follow up with more information about a local FireSafe Flathead group and tips on how to prepare for our next inevitable wildfire season.

Our Flathead area is covered in forests that have evolved with wildfire and can be expected to burn with fires of various size and intensity depending on the conditions of a particular fire season. It’s also an area growing in population, as development pushes out into areas of forest, brush, and grass, otherwise known as the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI).

Because of these factors, there is a local FireSafe Flathead group excited about connecting individuals, neighborhoods, businesses, and wildland fire professionals interested in creating fire-adapted communities. Here are just a few ways to get started:

  • “Harden” your home by building or retro-fitting with ignition-resistant construction.
  • Incorporate Firewise landscaping concepts in a “lean, clean, and green” area immediately surrounding your home (i.e. create a 5-foot noncombustible perimeter, minimize use of wood mulch, keep grass trimmed short, install gravel paths and irrigated garden beds of high moisture plants)
  • Break up forest fuel continuity by pruning tree branches up 6 to 10 feet from the ground and thinning trees so that there is at least 10-feet between the longest branches.
  • Create a Wildfire Action Plan for your family that includes: contacts list, home inventory, an evacuation plan, and an emergency go-bag for every member. Take special care and plan for extra time needed for pets, those with special needs, elderly, and children.
  • Be aware of local fire conditions, work with your community, host a firewise event…
  • Contact FireSafe Flathead members Rick Trembath or Ali Ulwelling (wildfire prevention, education, and information specialist for the Montana DNRC) if you are interested in a presentation specific to your community or would like more information about preparing for wildfire!