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Officials present fire plan to East Carbon City

Sun Advocate reporter

Tyre Holfeltz

During East Carbon City's regularly scheduled city council meeting Tyre Holfeltz, Wildland-Urban Interface Coordinator for the Division of Forestry and Rudy Sandoval, Carbon/Emery Wildland Fire Warden, detailed the new community fire plan. The plans mission includes protecting life, property and community values through community based planning.

According to the document wildfire has been a continuing challenge throughout Utah's and more importantly Carbon County's history. Over 400 of Utah's communities have been classified as "at risk" of wildfire. The document goes on to report that any fire over 100 acres in size would now threaten some structure do to the increase in development into wildland areas.

Objective for the program in Utah:

•To facilitate organization of citizen fire councils to guide planning and coordinated action.

•Improve safety through; coordination, training, fire prevention, education, fuel modification and public safety.

•To enhance fire protection through; improved fire prevention and public education, improved coordination within the community; development of long-term strategies, reduction of the potential for and the consequences of wildfire.

Specifically the communities of East Carbon and Columbia are adjacent to vast expanses of lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Because the surrounding vegetation type is predominantly sagebrush and pinyon pine and juniper the risk for fire is significant. The BLM have undertaken a significant project to the north of the community of East Carbon in which most of the pinyon and juniper were removed to restore the area to a more ecologically appropriate landscape.

The state has also undertaken a project in this same area where a fuel break was put into place. The community and state personally have identified three areas where the potential for extreme fire behavior could occur which would damage resources, infrastructure and residences.

Within these areas the community is working with the state to implement the fuel treatments identified and to reduce the overall risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Purposes for Community Fire Planning

• Empower communities to organize, plan and take action on issues impacting community safety.
• Enhance levels of fire resistance and protection to the city.
• Identify the risks of wildland/urban interface fires in the area.
• Identify strategies to reduce the risks to homes and businesses in the community during a wildfire.

The three projects identified are:

•Create a fuel break in the sagebrush behind the Denver area of East Carbon.

•Reduce the fuel loading in the Grassy Trail Creek within the community of East Carbon.

•Create a fuel break along an abandoned mining road on the south side of Columbia.

"We need to make more room on the backside of Denver," said Sandoval. "We are looking to make enough room so that fire trucks can gain access to the back side of those houses and also to allow us to make a stand against a wildfire in that area," continued the fire warden.

All three projects will use thinning treatments, pile burning and prescribed fire to meet the objectives outlined by the community. Maintenance will be left to the communities once the projects are completed.

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