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Collaborative Efforts Underway to Keep Flagstaff Safe from Wildfire, Floods

We all have a role to play in reducing the risk of wildfires in our neighborhoods and forests.

Hot, dry weather has renewed fears of destructive wildfires. They can occur instantaneously, and with high winds they can grow rapidly and become uncontrollable for firefighters.

To protect our communities and help keep forests healthy instead of surrounding forest fires burning everything in their path and making the soil hydrophobic and causing flooding. What’s going on? A lot, but more to come.

We would like to emphasize the importance of subscribing to emergency notifications. Sign up at coconino.az.gov/ready to ensure you receive notifications about emergencies affecting you or your neighbors. If you wish, we can provide additional information about your family members (including pets) to assist emergency responders. All information you provide is private and your information will not be shared except for emergency response.

The National Weather Service said temperatures are expected to rise this summer and monsoon storms are expected to be delayed and weakened. We all have a role to play in reducing the risk of wildfires in our neighborhoods and forests. First, make your home and garden as fireproof as possible. Here are some fire tips. Rake and remove all pine needles in your garden. Remove pine needles and other debris from roofs and gutters. Cut back any branches that are too close or drooping over the roof. Keep firewood away from home. Help your neighbors do the same! For more information, see firewise.org/usa.

A large part of Flagstaff’s strategy to protect against devastating bushfires involves the many partners involved in forest thinning planning, regulatory fire and wildfire response. The Flagstaff Fire Department Wilderness Fire Management Program and Coconino National Forest coordinate response efforts throughout the year to keep our communities as safe as possible. The coalition of people working to keep our communities safe also includes the Summit Fire Medical District, Highlands Fire District, Coconino County, Arizona Forestry and Fire Department, Northern Arizona University, and Arizona Public Service.

Flagstaff voters backed these efforts in 2012 when they approved a $10 million bond to establish the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP). The investment has raised more than $40 million of his from partner organizations and agencies to plan and complete large-scale forest restoration and treatment works, with more projects underway. These treatments focus on critical watersheds to mitigate threats such as water quality degradation and post-fire flooding. In FWPP priority areas, more than 14,000 acres have been restored through environmental forest fire risk reduction thinning.

These efforts are paying off. Just a few weeks ago, a fire was discovered at the city’s Observatory Mesa Natural Area on Red Flag Day. Thanks to the quick and well-coordinated response of the Flagstaff Fire Department and Coconino National Forest, and the reforestation process by FWPP, the fire remained above ground and was extinguished in just two-tenths of an acre.

In addition to the Coconino County Emergency Management webpage, the social media pages of the Southwest Coordination Center, Coconino National Wildfire Management, the city’s Discover Flagstaff and the Flagstaff Fire Department are also useful sites. Enjoy a fun Flagstaff summer and some very fire smart people. FBNMore

By Becky Daggett

Becky Daggett is the mayor of Flagstaff.

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