Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP)
Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP)
Author(s): Sandy Benson
A Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) gathers together your community's resources to enhance wildfire mitigation and preparedness. The written document identifies the steps a community will take to reduce its risk of damage from wildfires. About the photo: Duane Witte shot this photograph in Valentine, NE as the Big Rock Fire crept into the city limits.
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What is a CWPP?
Developing a CWPP is not a difficult process, but it does require collaboration between community leaders, county officials, and area fire departments. However, once a plan is in place, your community will be safer and better equipped to protect life and property in the event of a wildfire.
Every CWPP has two key steps:
- It identifies and prioritizes wildfire risk areas within and adjacent to the community;
- It identifies measures needed to mitigate those risks, and it creates a plan of action to implement these measures.
Why Should My Community Develop a CWPP?
A CWPP allows a variety of community groups to create strategies for managing local natural resources and protecting their community’s residents and infrastructure.
Having a CWPP in place provides communities with important benefits:
- They can decide upon the definition of the wildland-urban interface (WUI) in their area and its boundary.
- They can help prioritize fuels treatments in their wildland-urban interface.
- Communities can apply for grants for federal cost share on local fuels treatment projects. These grants can reduce the local cost of projects by at least 50 percent.
- Communities determine the area(s) of interest.
- Communities determine the priority area(s) for treatment.
- Bringing stakeholders together strengthens response and coordination during emergencies.
Overview of the process
Interested local parties can take the lead in developing a CWPP. However, the plan should be developed with support from state and federal agencies
- Form a committee that includes area fire departments, local government, and the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS).
- Consult with local federal agencies such as Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, or the Bureau of Land Management.
- Identify priority areas that need fuels reduction treatments. These areas must include land within or adjacent to a community OR these areas aim to protect critical infrastructure.
- The plan needs to provide communities and homeowners with specific options to reduce threats to structures in the event of a wildfire.
- The NFS will assist your committee in the technical development of the CWPP. Specifics of the plan will determine its cost, however; the NFS can award financial assistance to your CWPP.
Step by step
- Bring together the core stakeholders. This includes representatives from communities, counties, and fire departments in the proposed planning area.
- Invite the participation of federal and state partners that can provide technical expertise and other resources such as mapping or natural resource planning.
- Branch out even further! Invite utility co-ops, Natural Resource Districts, NE Game & Parks, NE Emergency Management Agency, Fire Marshal's Office, etc.
- Establish a base map that includes primary area(s) of interest for the plan.
- Identify areas of greatest risk in the planning areas (a.k.a. Wildland Urban Interface). Rate them using a high to low scale.
- Identify the hazard reduction priorities for each community—remember to include important infrastructure and homes at risk.
- Develop an action plan with cost estimates.
- Finalize the plan with all committee members.
How to assess wildfire risk
- Evaluate the fuel types near the community or planning area.
- Look at the area’s past fire history: which locations pose the greatest risk?
- Evaluate homes, businesses, infrastructure and other areas of concern.
- Remember to include communication facilities, roads, water resources, and other critical infrastructure.
- Take note of sites with historic, scenic, wildlife, economic, and cultural value.
- Review the community’s preparedness plan: include capacity, safety zones, and mutual-aid agreements.
- When in doubt, make notes and contact the NFS. We are here to assist your community in prevention and preparation efforts.