Woodlands Fire Reduction Efforts
Fuel reduction in the woodlands surrounding Jacksonville has been an ongoing concern and effort for the Jacksonville Woodlands Association (JWA) long before the fires of 2017/2018. Back in 2002-2004 a large portion of the woodlands were treated to make the area less susceptible to wild fire by clearing the area of brush and reducing the ladder fuels to the crowns of the big firs and pine. In cooperation with local property owners that owned land adjacent to the woodlands, 1,300 acres of property of city owned and privately-owned lands were treated. The city council gave temporary permission to burn the material that was removed during the reduction efforts.
The City, JWA and BLM are aware that they need to do a follow up of the fuel reduction project on the 275 acres of the Woodlands,120 BLM and 155 city owned acres. Most recently, three members of the JWA who have over 100 years of combined experienced in fuels reduction have conducted a walk though of this area and will be meeting with BLM and the city regarding their recommendations. Jacksonville is vulnerable to wild fires, the city has been protected by the fuel reduction efforts back in 2002, but reducing fire threat is an ongoing, never ending project, even more so today as the type of fires has changed with drier climates and building fuel loads in the woods and forest.
Home safety and the creation of home defensible zones through the Firewise program began a few years ago by CERT, and will continue in 2019 to reduce the wildland threat to our community. Homes located in Forest lands surrounding Jacksonville will need to be educated on how to survive a large fire and CERT will be reaching out to these landowners educating them on defensible spaces.
Education and public awareness to wildfires continue to be a prime focus for the CERT program. Members today train in many facets of emergency preparedness in order to bolster and enhance the fire-fighting and life-saving capabilities of local fire department.