Learn about the history behind the development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs), the key components, how a CWPP can benefit a community at risk from wildfire, and how to create a plan for your community.
The Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 was the initiating legislation for the development of CWPPs. This legislation encourages communities to develop these plans to help reduce their risk to wildfire loss as well as create healthier natural ecosystems. The ambiguity in the legislation allows communities to develop effective plans that are relevant to their conditions and can change as community capacity and other conditions change.
Why it is important to develop a CWPP
Community wildfire protection planning is one of the most important components of a wildfire safety strategy in your community. According to the U.S. Forest Service, less than 10% of communities at risk from wildfire have developed a CWPP. Sometimes a community's grant application can be given more priority depending upon whether or not they have a CWPP in place.
Key components of a CWPP
A CWPP can help you and your jurisdiction plan and prioritize implementing project work that can make a difference in protecting homes, residents and responding firefighters. Some of the key components of a CWPP include:
Information developed in the process of creating a CWPP can be integrated into a hazard mitigation plan .
Create a CWPP for your community
The U.S. Fire Administration's (USFA) Creating a Community Wildfire Protection Plan guide will assist you in making a CWPP. The form-fillable templates in the guide allow you to create an action plan and document assets at risk, forest/landscape health issues, and key stakeholders.
The items included in the guide are suggestions and by no means inclusive of all components your community needs to work on. You will need to identify your own unique risks and create your own solutions.
Creating a Community Wildfire Protection Plan
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Action items for fire departments
- Identify all stakeholders in your community to include land managers, agencies, school districts, tribes, state foresters, residents, water districts, public works departments, fire departments, emergency managers and hazard mitigation planners.
- Research your community's risk to include fire history, type of vegetation, topography, condition of homes, infrastructure, and resources available to respond.
- Host a planning meeting and invite all stakeholders (a virtual conference can work). Give people the opportunity to submit comments via email, a website or mail.
- Prioritize risk to the community from wildfire-generated embers as well as the direct flame front.
- Create an action plan based upon priorities identified to lessen the risk to homes and the landscape surrounding the community. Allow for public comments and make the final plan available.
- Implement the projects identified. Many projects, such as cleaning up around homes, are simple and low cost but can create much safer conditions.
- Revisit the plan at least once every five years or as projects get completed or conditions change.