Fire managers urge residents to become Firewise
The Kenai Peninsula has been getting more rain than sunshine the last week, and whether it’s a hiatus in the wildfire season or the end of it, now is a good chance to make sure your property is firewise.
Jeff Bouschor, Fire Management Officer for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, said fires on the peninsula are becoming more of a challenge as time goes on.
“Some of the things we've been seeing, right, is that our fire seasons are becoming longer. Climate change is a, is a real thing here on the Kenai peninsula. And we're seeing, you know, longer summer longer seasons. One of our biggest challenges with that is that you as a community are, are a part of that. And that's what we're tasked with protecting is, is the community,” Bouschor said. “You know, as a wildlife refuge, and one of our primary goals is, is to manage wildlife habitat, but we're also tasked with protecting our communities and, you know, that's a very difficult balancing act to manage our wildlands, you know, in a place that you know, fairly frequent fire return interval with high intensity fire that bounds right up against our neighbor's backyards. That is, that is challenging.”
Dan Nelson, Director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Office of Emergency Management, says information on making property “firewise” is widely available and a benefit to all.
“On the Kenai peninsula, we've had the fortune to be able to work with all landowners, such as the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the state, native associations, and many others to be able to ensure that we're doing coordinated mitigation efforts. That mitigation as well as the work from private landowners, making sure that their properties are Firewise, they have defensible space, really makes the job of the firefighters easier, but also makes the process of large-scale emergency management work to everybody's benefit.”
Drew Anderson is a fire prevention technician at the Alaska Division of Forestry office in Soldotna. He says making a property Firewise is easy and important.
“We encourage the public to Firewise their homes, to be safe, in case a wildfire does occur near your home. And to dispose of that slash you could use the local landfill, they can dispose of it for you,” Anderson said. “I'm going to briefly discuss some of the regulations that are required between April 1 and August 31. Such as having water on scene, always being an attendance of your fire and make sure you'll get a fully extinguished that fire when you're done burning. We kind of recommend people burn slash in the winter months where escapement won't happen. But if you do choose to burn during the summer months following the regulations and the burn permit, will keep you, keep you safe and legal.”
All three agencies, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Kenai Peninsula Borough, and the State Division of Forestry have resources to help property owners prepare and protect their land.