Six Considerations That May Improve the Survivability of Your Property Against Wildfires
Is your property protected from wildfire? As you look out your window at the snow-covered landscape have you asked yourself, “what is the possibility of a wildfire threatening my property?” Even with 2’ of snow on the ground this is a valid question. In fact now is the best time to consider this issue… As the fire approaches your fence line it most likely is too late. Several measures for improving the survivability of your property are briefly described below.
The size of a defensible area required to protect your property depends on several questions. How steep is the property? The steeper the slope, the greater the area that must be treated. Which way do the prevailing winds come from? Treating the areas where the wildfire is likely to approach your property and home will improve the survivability of your property. What kind of vegetation is on your property? The type of vegetation greatly affects the type of treatments and how defendable your property is against wildfires (the vegetation is the fuel in a wildfire).
Look around at the dead vegetation on your property. This includes snags, branches, shrubs, dry grass, and leaves or needles. In most cases, removing as much as possible of this type of debris is recommended.
Is there continuous dense cover? A heavily stocked timber stand with a large number of the tree crowns intertwined has a greater chance of carrying an intense crown fire. A stand with 5’ to 20’ between the trees is more likely to have a more controllable ground fire. The distance between crowns should increase as the slopes increase.
Controlling the fuel ladder on your property will help to avoid a crown fire. A fuel ladder exists when the grass is in contact with the shrubs that are in contact with the small trees that are in contact with large trees. The fire can climb up these fuels into the canopy of your timber. Pruning and thinning can help alleviate this problem.
A treated area of 30’ or more around each structure will improve its chances of surviving a wildfire. This area should be clean, green, and lean, essentially removing most of the burnable fuels around these structures.
Maintaining the defensible space around your property is an on-going process. If you do not maintain the defensible space by implementing some of these practices, it is possible that your property will not survive a wildfire. Several programs are available to help with the expense associated with improving your defensible space.
For more information contact our foresters Dennis Thomas at our Moscow Office, our Coeur d’Alene Office, or Brian Vrablick at our Deer Park, WA office.