Firewise Landscaping and Protecting Your Home From Wildfire

Listen to this report as it aired on KPCW 91.7

After the Parleys Canyon Fire, how can you protect your home or business from future forest fires?

The Wasatch Back is located in a so-called wildland-urban interface. Here the forest touches civilization and is very susceptible to forest fires.

Since there is little or no natural protection against fire, such as For example, large open spaces, homeowners have had to be proactive in protecting their property.

David Kottler was in Park City Leadership grade 25. Her class project was to put the best information available about forest fire protection into one easy-to-understand source.

“When we started looking around, none of us were experts in the field, so we basically started from scratch on our own research and found that there was a lot of information out there,” said Kottler. “We wanted to put it all into one simple, fairly concise resource guide that Summit Counties could use to find out what to do in their own home.”

Kottler and his classmates coordinated with the Park City Fire Department and the Summit County Fire Department attendant to gather the information.

The resource guide teaches homeowners about things like landscaping by fire. From tips on how to keep your roof off dry debris to what materials you should use in building your home, Kottler said fire-oriented landscaping starts with the home and works from there.

“There are different levels of concern,” he said. “You want to start with your home and defensible space, which is usually referred to as about five feet outside the perimeter of your structure, and then the further you go from your structure there are some other recommendations.”

Some of these tactics, like limiting the amount of overgrowth and dry shrubbery on your property, can be expanded and used by forest teams when fighting wildfire or working to limit the risk of a forest fire.

Efforts like Basin Recreation’s multi-year forest health project are working to reduce the amount of overgrowth and fuel in the Summit Park area.

The Park City Fire District recognized these efforts and a quick response time for limiting the Parleys Canyon Fire to just 541 acres, which is small by forest fire standards.

Fire containment efforts will become more important in the future, experts say, as climate change and drought have dried up forests and made large fires more likely.

A link to the Summit County Fire Warden Fire Resource Guide is available here.

KPCW news reports on climate change issues are brought to you by the Park City Community Foundation’s Park City Climate Fund, an initiative that involves Park City in implementing local, impactful climate solutions that have the potential to be effective in similar communities.

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