Improve Fire Prevention and Suppression Reduce Hazardous FuelsRestore Fire Adapted Ecosystems Promote Community AssistanceSummary



Flagstaff is notable for its cooperation in fire suppression and prevention and its impressive emphasis on forest restoration. Maintaining its cooperative relationships and developing a small diameter timber industry from restoration work are ongoing challenges for Flagstaff.

The Flagstaff WUI encompasses several jurisdictions and ownerships. The Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council (PFAC) was formed in 1989 as a consortium of local fire agencies, fire districts, municipal fire people, USFS, AZ State Land, and NPS to share information about their various projects and coordinate their efforts. In addition to the work by PFAC members, the City of Flagstaff has an active fire suppression and prevention program. Since 1996 Flagstaff Fire Department has worked to reduce the wildfire threat and ensure a sustainable community. The City of Flagstaff is unique because it has its own Fuel Management Division within the Fire Department. The Fuel Management Division has been engaged in an active fuel reduction and education program since 1996. In 2003, the Fire Department began a home assessment campaign to target 900 homes in the University Heights development. This is the first time the Fire Department targeted an area because of the development's location on the southwest side of the city.

In addition to its work on fire prevention and suppression, Flagstaff has underway a most impressive restoration program. The Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership (GFFP) is an alliance of 25 academic, environmental, business and governmental organizations dedicated to testing and adapting new approaches to restoring forest ecosystem health in the forests surrounding Flagstaff. The work on the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership consists of analyzing 100,000 acres of WUI around Flagstaff in 10,000 acre blocks per year to implement forest health and fire reduction projects. Treatment proceeds with the USFS as a major partner. Twenty years from now, the GFFP envisions the greater Flagstaff area will be home to a small but thriving sector of businesses based on the ecologically sustainable utilization of forest restoration products. Business will include primary producers of forest products, as well as "value-added" processors, such as manufacturers of fencing and custom building materials, furniture makers, wood pellets and others.

Utilization is the biggest challenge facing Flagstaff. Savannah Pacific holds promise in utilizing Ponderosa Pine though a Wood Industrial Park in nearby Bellmont. Although Savannah Pacific has the support of the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership and community, the company has had some set backs from the original plan to start phase one in the first quarter of 2004.

Maintaining a cooperative relationship between the USFS and environmental organizations is another challenge. Taylor McKinnon of Grand Canyon Trust feels the Forest Service is holding back the Partnership back in terms of collaboration. He feels the last project, Woody Ridge, has been the least collaborative.

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Copyright©2004 Toddi A. Steelman and North Carolina State University

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