The Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Inc. has won one of 11 of the state’s 2012 Volunteer Service Awards.
PSFR has worked to reduce fire fuels in the Pine and Strawberry areas and last summer hosted its first Fire on the Rim Mountain Bike Race. It won the state award for outstanding nonprofit or faith-based volunteer group.
PSFR gained national attention in 2005 for spearheading a fund drive in the private sector to fund maintenance of the fuel break on Forest Service land surrounding the two communities.
The project not only provided the communities with desperately needed wildfire protection, but also was cited as the best example of cooperation between the community and various public agencies.
Other projects undertaken by PSFR include reseeding the fuel break with native grasses to facilitate a natural burning cycle and the construction of a small diameter wood ramada at the Pine Community Center, which demonstrated a practical application for the forest products that surround the communities.
The group has undertaken numerous other wildfire education and mitigation projects through community and agency support and cooperation, including installing firewise signs along main ingress and egress routes in town and building a firewise trailer — a mobile wildfire education classroom.
Making PSFR a success are its board Walt Smith, president; Mel Palmer, vice president; Jack Molloy, secretary; Gail Reese, treasurer; members Ron Calderon, Katie Calderon and Janet Brandt and grants administrator Mike Brandt, captain of the Pine Strawberry Fire Department.
Gov. Jan Brewer participated in the awards program April 20 at the East Valley Institute of Technology.
“As Arizonans and Americans, volunteerism is one of our single most fulfilling and worthwhile pursuits. I applaud these individuals for recognizing the importance of public service, and for donating their time and efforts to bettering the lives of others,” Brewer said.