5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 4:00 PM
Islands of fire: meeting the wildland urban interface challenge in the Florida Keys
Chris Bergh, The Nature Conservancy, Summerland Key, FL
In recent years, wildfires have impacted communities in Florida and elsewhere with unprecedented frequency and severity. Naturally flammable pine forests with scattered homes in the lower Florida Keys exhibit the same “wildland/urban interface” and heavy accumulations of fuel that have led to disaster in other places. A group of public and private land management, fire suppression and public safety organizations formed the Lower Keys Wildland Fire Hazard Reduction Initiative to help address this serious threat to people, property and natural resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Division of Forestry, Monroe County, Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department and The Nature Conservancy are cooperating on this effort.

Formed in August 2001 the Initiative has identified and prioritized threatened neighborhoods and developed a variety of strategies for reducing the threat of wildfire. These strategies include informing residents about the threat and what they can do at their own homes and businesses to reduce it, increasing local fire suppression capabilities and reducing the amount of fuel build up around homes by hand, with machinery and/or with prescribed fire. As strategy implementation proceeds, an adaptive managment approach is being used to refine methods that protect people, homes and natural resources.

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