The wildland urban interface, or WUI for short, is any area in Wyoming where man-made buildings and other valuable properties are intermixed with wildlands that contain flammable vegetation such as grass, brush and trees and where there is a high potential and risk for wildfire. These areas have traditionally been associated with development in or adjacent to public lands such as National Forests and the BLM. However another growing WUI of concern in the Bighorn Basin is where homes and subdivisions have been developed and intermixed on private lands with heavy fuel loading. These urban/wildland areas contain high fuel loading during the dry season and combined with a high incidence of man caused fires such as ditch burning and fireworks, they can create a dangerous potential for wildfires that can destroy or damage your property.
WUI conditions cause concern to Federal, State and local fire fighting resources because in most cases homeowners and landowners assume that it is the Fire Departments responsibility to “put the fire out” before it does any damage. The reality is that in a lot of these areas the Fire Department’s response time to a fire could be 15 to 30 minutes, which may be too late. Another reality is that fire fighting resources are limited and may not be able to respond in adequate numbers or at all, because of other commitments. This was the case during the Whit fire in 2016.
The solution to this potential wildfire problem lies with the homeowner or landowner. They must become accountable and responsible for the fuel conditions on their property that may support a home destroying or life threatening wildfire. In short, landowners own their home ignition zone, not the fire department. It should also be noted that applying good Firewise principles to property may also prevent a home ignition from escaping into a wildfire situation on public or private land, creating a huge liability to the homeowner responsible for that wildfire.
The Firewise program is designed to help you defend your property from a wildfire by creating a defensible zone or “fire break” around your valuables. Making your property “Firewise” is simply accomplished by applying proper fuel management practices or mitigation measures to your structures and land. In short, it is keeping your property lean, clean and green.
The objectives of the Park County Firewise and the Bighorn County Firewise programs are to educate, advise, and assist landowners about the problem and solutions related to hazard fuels, fuels mitigation measures and activities, defensible space principles and also information on firewise landscaping as well as firewise home design and construction. These subjects are covered in the menu tabs.
The Firewise coordinator is available to facilitate this process or actually do landowner assessments. In cases where other resource needs are identified, the Firewise coordinator will recommend to the landowner other cooperating agency resources that may help them achieve their desired landscape conditions. These cooperating agencies include Wyoming State Forestry, Weed and Pest, Fire Districts, Conservation Districts, NRCS, Extension Service, the BLM and US Forest Service. In some cases, landowners may qualify for cost sharing fuel management activities.
So, if you live in an area at risk from a grass, brush or forest fire, you have come to the right place for learning and getting help to mitigate a wildfire threat.