Genesee manages nearly 1200 acres of open space, of which about 60% is forested. For the last 25 years Genesee Foundation has allocated funds to treat these forested areas for forest health and fire safety by thinning to reduce fire fuels, cutting trees to create shaded fuel breaks which helps firefighters in the event of a wildfire, and removing less-healthy trees so the healthiest ones can get enough water to thrive. The Foundation also removes diseased and beetle-killed trees when they threaten the health of the surrounding forest. A full explanation of Open Space management activities is provided in the annual Genesee Open Space Management Plan, which is available on the Open Space and GEM web pages.
Genesee was among the first in the country to participate in the Firewise Communities Program and is now is respected nationally as a Firewise Community. Firewise is a key component of Fire Adapted Communities - a collaborative approach that connects all those who play a role in wildfire education, planning and action with comprehensive resources to help reduce risk. (The program is co-sponsored by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters.) This program teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire in two ways: by encouraging homeowners to (1) take individual action and (2) work together with their neighbors to prepare everyone’s homes and property to reduce the risk of loss of life or property from a wildfire.
We can look at each of these in more detail…
What immediate actions can homeowners take? Besides trees, residents can remove shrubs, grass, pine needles and other flammable materials from the space immediately adjacent to their homes to reduce their vulnerability to fire.
Why are collaborative efforts important? Maintaining the health of trees and reducing their density on private property is a critical component of fire protection and fire risk mitigation in Genesee. If trees on several residents' lots and the surrounding Open Space are spaced widely apart, limbed-up and healthy, those residents’ risk of loss is lowered. But, if those on a nearby property are thick and weakened by drought, the risk of wildfire damage in the neighborhood and on the adjacent Open Space is increased. The increased intensity of a wildfire on an unmitigated neighbor’s property will increase the risk to all of the nearby homes.
Genesee Fire and Safety Committee (GFSC) encourages residents and the Foundation to mitigate risk factors wherever possible to protect their own property and the rest of the community from wildfire. To this end, they are also looking into other ways to encourage more homeowners to become involved in our fire mitigation efforts. These include educational programs and cost-saving initiatives such as the yearly community-wide slash pickups and group discounts on tree removal and other services.
In addition to fire mitigation, GFSC's overarching goal is to help Genesee by educating and facilitating action regarding all safety issues of community interest. Check the GFSC webpage, The Genescene and the email blasts for more information on these other programs.