Montana Wildfire Season, Smokey House

Montanans can fight wildfires with land use planning

Wildfires make all of us feel useless. After this past summer, and this past decade of increasing frequency of fires, a lot of Montanans are left asking, what can we even do?

Fortunately, there’s help. Local communities can develop plans that promote agriculture land, open space, and protection of water sources. These are already valued by Montana, so if there’s a way to more strategically promote ag, open space or water, we’re all ears.

Headwaters Economics and Wildfire Planning International created Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) in 2015, to help communities actively mitigate their wildfire risk.

Now, 26 communities nationwide are working with CPAW to develop their own plans.

Land Use Planning Reduces Wildfires

Infographic from CPAW about their approach to reducing Wildfires

Three Montana communities have already begun working with CPAW:  Park County, Lewis and Clark County, and Missoula County.

When a community is selected to work with CPAW, it is costless. CPAW then works will local leaders and community members, reviewing community plans and codes and incorporating a Community Wildfire Protection Plan or Wildland-Urban Interface Code.

Working in teams to reduce any conflicts due to the regulations, CPAW and communities look at existing and future development to ensure that they’ve given wildfires the consideration they deserve.

2018 communities have already be selected, and no communities from Montana were added. In order to ensure this isn’t the case for 2019 as well, community members looking to make wildfire season less unbearable should be looking at the application process now.

So for anyone who hasn’t landed on their new year’s resolution just yet, maybe you just found one worthy of your time.

Andie Creel

Feature photo provided by Alex D’Agostino

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