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Anchors Landing Community Firewise Recognition

GRANITE FALLS, NC (October 21, 2019) — Recently, the Anchors Landing community became North Carolina’s 30th Firewise USA®™ site. Members of their community met with the N.C. Forest Service, Grace Chapel Fire Department, and Carolina Land and Lakes Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) in recognition of the accomplishment.

Over the past several months, Anchors Landing completed many tasks to better prepare their community for a wildfire. In April 2019, residents met with fire professionals to learn more about Firewise and to ask questions about the wildfire risks they face. Shortly after, the N.C. Forest Service conducted a community wildfire risk assessment. Since that time, community members have worked many hours around their homes and throughout the Anchors Landing community to reduce the damaging effects in the event of a wildfire.

“Preparing for a wildfire can be a daunting task but you don’t have to do it alone,” said Justin Query, Wildfire Mitigation Forester with the N.C. Forest Service. “In the Anchors Landing community, the actions being taken by a network of neighbors are exponentially reducing wildfire risks within their community.”

With this accomplishment, Anchors Landing joins the Coves River Mountain Club, Wilson Creek, Edgemont, and Cedar Rock communities in actively being Firewise in Caldwell County. To reduce wildfire risks, they are working in concert with the N.C. Forest Service, the Grace Chapel Fire Department, and Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D Council, which is part of the Appalachian RC&D Fire Adapted Communities Coalition.

“As Caldwell County’s population continues to expand, much of the development to accommodate that growth has flowed into traditionally natural areas,” said Ethan Matherly, Caldwell County Ranger. “A trend toward migration from urban centers and suburbs into formerly rural and wild areas places many more people in the path of potential wildfire. We saw this firsthand during the fall of 2016. Threats to life and property from wildfires, and costs for suppressing them are growing at an astounding rate. Anchors Landing recognizes these risks and are working to reduce the hazards.”

The Firewise USA®™ program empowers individuals to take an active role in protecting their communities by encouraging local solutions that involve residents taking responsibility for preparing their homes for wildfire.

Research has shown that both the house and the adjacent landscape play a critical role in the home surviving a wildfire. There are steps that homeowners can take to reduce risks, with the most important efforts occurring on or immediately around the home. Additionally, neighboring properties can also influence each other. Firewise USA®™ guides residents in how to organize their neighborhoods to work collaboratively to reduce shared risk.

Since 1970, more than 10,000 homes and 20,000 other structures have been lost to severe wildland fires nationwide. Once a fire starts, there is only so much fire service professionals can do to protect structures.

While many people think of western states such as California as being particularly prone to wildfire destruction, the problem also exists in North Carolina. Studies show that North Carolina ranks number one in the number of acres affected by the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), and fifth in the number of homes in the WUI, at 41 percent. This, in addition to the fact that wildfire is a natural part of North Carolina’s ecosystems, illustrates the wildfire danger with which many residents live. It’s not a matter of if a wildfire will occur but rather when a wildfire will occur.

Initiated in 2002 with 12 pilot neighborhoods, the national Firewise USA®™ recognition program has more than 1,500 active member communities in 42 states, as well as a participation retention rate of 80 percent over the past decade. The program, aimed at homeowners, provides specific criteria for communities regarding wildfire preparedness, and based on this criterion, offers national recognition for their work.

To learn more about the Firewise USA®™ program, visit Firewise.org, or call your local county ranger for advice on how to protect your neighborhood and your home from wildfire.

Press Release courtesy of:
Justin Query
Wildfire Mitigation Forester
NC Forest Service