Cedar Highlands residents clear excess timber, slash around community for wildfire prevention

CEDAR HIGHLANDS — More than 50 residents of Cedar Highlands recently pitched in to clear timber and fire fuels from around their homes and access roads.

Cedar Highlands Mayor Steven Swann said town residents collectively spent more than 200 man-hours working on the project May 5. The date was chosen to coincide with the National Fire Protection Agency’s fifth annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, an event designed to help communities prepare for and work together to reduce their risk of wildfire damage.

Cedar Highlands residents participate in a community project to clear trees and brush as part of Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, Cedar Highlands, Utah, May 5, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Steven C. Swann, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Continued drought, hotter temperatures and high winds are major contributors to the increased wildfire activity we experienced in Iron County last year,” Swann said. “The Brian Head fire was a painful reminder of the vigilance we have to take in our communities every year. And in 2016, Cedar Highlands and Cedar City were both threatened by the Hicks Creek Fire.”

Cedar Highlands became Utah’s newest incorporated town in January. The Iron County community, which has a population of about 120, is located at about 8,000 feet elevation in the mountains southeast of Cedar City.

Swann deemed the recent project a success. “It was a great day, and the weather was perfect. We increased our fire fuels break along a large portion of our main access road by over 20 feet along its length,” he said, adding that community members are planning to conduct one or two additional such projects this summer.

Cedar Highlands residents participate in a community project to clear trees and brush as part of Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, Cedar Highlands, Utah, May 5, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Steven C. Swann, St. George News / Cedar City News

Before the May 5 project began, Iron County Fire Marshal Ryan Riddle was on site to give instructions and suggestions to the teams. Later, after the work was completed, the workers enjoyed a catered lunch courtesy of Bob’s Dawgs.

Swann said residents who participated in the project were able to take home truckloads of firewood to use in their own homes or to be donated to others in need.

Below are recommended actions that owners of cabins or homes located in the mountains or forest areas can take to reduce the risk of their property becoming fuel for a wildfire, courtesy of the National Fire Protection Agency:

  • Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within a minimum of 3 to 5 feet of a home’s foundation. As time permits – continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
  • Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site.
  • Distribute wildfire safety information, like the free Firewise Toolkit, to neighbors or staff at a grocery or hardware store (other high-traffic locations work, too) and distribute free Firewise and emergency preparedness materials that can be ordered from the Firewise catalog or from Ready.gov.
  • Join forces with neighbors and pool your resources to pay for a chipper service to remove slash.
  • Help elderly relatives or neighbors enter emergency numbers and the names of close relatives into their cell phones; and in large font post their phone number and street address above their landline so it can easily be seen when providing information to emergency dispatchers.

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