Several local firewise organizations were represented at the Backyards and Beyond 2008 Conference of the Firewise Communities/USA organization recently held in Tampa, Fla.
The firewise program is a nationwide initiative that recognizes communities for taking action to protect people and property from the risk of fire in the urban/wildlands interface.
This program is of special interest to small communities and neighborhood associations, such as we have in the Payson area, that are willing to protect against wildfire by adopting and implementing programs tailored to their needs.
Local firewise organizations were represented by Matalyn Gardner, chairperson of Firewise East Verde Park; Jackie Badger, chairperson of Chaparral Pines firewise organization; and Mike Brandt of the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department and responsible for its firewise program.
“Networking with attendees from over 30 states and five countries was an exciting experience,” Badger said.
“The amount of information available was overwhelming and everyone was encouraged to share their ideas and ask questions as often as possible.”
The Backyards and Beyond 2008 conference gave attendees the opportunity to learn about firewise practices and concepts from experts in the field of wildfire mitigation.
“The conference is always a good place to hear new ideas and to talk to others across the country about what works,” Brandt said.
“The one thing I realized at this conference is that we are doing all the right things to become firewise here. In my opinion, the Rim Country is a leader in the field.”
At the conference, Arizona was one of only a few states recognized for its firewise program.
Lee Ann Beery of the Arizona State Forestry Division’s Payson field office and in charge of the state’s firewise program for the area was unable to attend the conference but has planned a regional workshop for local firewise organizations to hear from the attendees in February.
“I was thrilled when I heard two local Firewise Community USA board members had received full scholarships to attend the national conference. It’s wonderful to have the Rim Country area represented at the national level,” Beery said.
“I look forward to them sharing new ideas and their experiences with the rest of us at the workshop in February.”