Further fighting fire with Firewise

The first round of the most recent Firewise efforts in Deadwood began in the area around The Lodge at Deadwood. Pictured here, fire crews burn the many slash piles in March. Efforts will continue thanks to a new contract approved Monday. Pioneer file photo

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DEADWOOD — Deadwood continues to fight fire with Firewise, as Monday, the Deadwood City Commission granted permission to enter into contract with Black Hills Land Analysis LLC to develop a community assessment for wildland fire mitigation planning in an amount not to exceed $22,800. 

The funds will come from additional Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grant funding also approved by the commission Monday as an amendment to a BLM agreement for an additional $40,000 in Firewise funds, bringing the total agreement to $80,000.

“This is, essentially, the next step in Firewise,” said Public Works Director Bob Nelson, Jr. “It’s a community-wide assessment. It will actually stretch outside our border a little bit. It’s going to work hand in hand with Lawrence County’s community-wide protection plan and it’s to be paid for with a grant Mike Runge obtained from the BLM. I think it’s a critical next step for us.”

As part of the project, the existing wildland fuel conditions within the boundary of the city will be evaluated and mapped using GPS and GIS. The risk of ignition will be reviewed and incorporated into the planning project and the existing values will be mapped out and considered during the plan development. 

“Structure assessments will be completed in some areas to help analyze the risk from uncontrolled wildland fire impinging into the community,” said Rob Mattox of Black Hills Land Analysis, LLC. “This planning process and related products will help develop a long-term comprehensive plan that will service the community now and into the future.”

Projects to be developed during the project will include GIS data of existing fuel conditions on the ground, treatment areas, and proposed treatment prescriptions for the identified areas, identifying areas of concern.

Structure assessments will be completed in certain areas of interest as identified by the planning group.

“I estimate 40-60 structures could be assessed per day,” Mattox said. “How many days would depend on the structures identified for consideration.”

The project is likely to take around one month, to be completed by April 2020 to facilitate treatments during the summer of 2020.

Elements of the assessment will include: ignition risk; fuels hazard; historical sites; structure assessments; survivable space – home ignition zone, Firewise landscaping, fire resistive building requirements, fire resistive plant species, Firewise practices; landscape fuels assessment within city limits, water sources, ingress/egress, powerline hazard; fire department capacity; GIS products – stand conditions, treatment areas, ingress/egress buffer zones, hazardous topography, structure assessments.

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