SPECIAL TO NHN
With a dry summer ahead, one community is actively working to reduce its risk to wildfire. Residents of Kohala by the Sea are planning a Firewise community workday Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Volunteers will meet at the entrance to Kohala by the Sea on Akoni Pule Highway where they will break into teams. Volunteers should dress appropriately for gardening and wear sunscreen. Tools will be provided and a team of community members will distribute water throughout the event to volunteers.
Residents will remove potential fire fuel from around the community. Removing fuel load, such as dead vegetation, reduces the risk of wildfire growth and spread.
“Kohala by the Sea residents are very aware that they live in a high fire hazard area and previous workdays have been very successful,” says Denise Laitinen, statewide coordinator for Firewise Communities. Typically, more than a dozen participants turn out for the community’s Firewise workday, which is held twice a year.
“The folks of Kohala by the Sea continue to do a lot of great Firewise work and serve as an example for other communities to follow,” says Laitinen. Kohala by the Sea is the only community in the state that has achieved national recognition as part of the Firewise Communities USA program, an honor it has received seven years in a row.
Firewise Communities/USA is a national program available to fire-prone communities to reduce their risk to wildfire. Its goal is to encourage and acknowledge action that minimizes home loss to fire. It teaches people to prepare for a wildfire before it occurs.
For residents in other communities that want to reduce their risk to wildfire, Laitinen suggests they implement the following Firewise tips to create defensible space around their homes:
* Prune shrubs and trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet off the ground to prevent fire traveling from the ground to the tree tops.
* Remove dead leaves and plant material from around your home.
* Plant vegetation with high-moisture content or plants native to your area. Clear away flammable plants that contain oily resins.
* Make sure plants closest to the house are low to the ground.
“It’s about being lean, clean, and green,” said Laitinen. “Creating a 30-foot buffer zone of defensible space around your property will help reduce your risk to wildfire. Even if you only have 5 or 10 feet of yard, you can still be Firewise,” says Laitinen.
For more information on the Kohala by the Sea Firewise community workday, contact Sharon at 882-1888. For more information on the Firewise Communities program, contact Denise Laitinen, Firewise Communities Hawaii coordinator at (808) 281-3497 or [email protected].