Wildfire Defensible Space Education in Yavapai County, Arizona Jeff Schalau, Agent, ANR, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County, Prescott, ArizonaIntroduction Needs Assessment Educational Programs Table 1. Evaluation results for the Defensible Space Landscaper Course showing steps of knowledge gained in each major topic area.In 2011, wildfires burned over Our needs assessment Programs are delivered by786,664 acres and destroyed or indicated multiple educational Instructional Specialist, Mark Steps of Knowledge Gained Weighteddamaged 159 structures in opportunities for Extension: DiLucido, a Landscape Architect Course Topic Areas Average 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 nArizona. Overstocked forests, with knowledge of native plants Educating the public about and ecosystems. Many programsdrought, and U.S./Mexico potential wildfire risks and Local Ecosystems and the Role of Fire 0 2 5 5 3 1 1 17 2.94border issues were contributing are short presentations designed defensible space principles. for Homeowners Associations Wildfire Behavior/Forest Health 0 1 6 2 6 0 2 17 3.24factors to these impacts. One of Collaborating with Yavapai and Communities seekingthese wildfires, the Wallow Fire, County fire departments and Wildfire Risk Assessment 0 2 4 3 3 3 2 17 3.41 FireWise designation. HOA andburned over 523,000 acres, districts to create a community programs have Defensible Space Zoning 0 2 6 3 3 2 1 17 3.00destroyed or damaged 78 consistent defensible space reached 2,219 participants sincestructures, and was the largest message. 2005. In addition, our Wildfire Hardscape Elements 1 4 2 5 4 0 1 17 2.65fire in Arizona’s history. Using fire-resistive plant Defensible Landscaper (WDL) Fire-Resistive Plants 0 5 6 2 2 1 1 17 2.47More people are living in materials to mitigate wildfire Course is designed forwildland-urban interface areas. risk. landscape professionals and Overall Mean 2.95This further complicates Promoting the use of provides basic knowledge offirefighting efforts and science-based horticultural ecosystems, plant materials, Recent Additions to Programincreases risk of fire starts in practices such as pruning, fire behavior, and defensible “Firewise and Water Smart”these areas. mulching, and hardscaping space strategies. This course educational materials to meet defensible space has been offered six times to 81 highlighting fire resistive plants goals. participants (includes one class that also have reduced water since abstract submission). requirements. Rainwater harvesting is also Evaluation taught to reduce potable water The WDL course was evaluated use and maintain greater in 2009 with past participants hydration in plant tissue. Water surveyed about knowledge is redirected using topographic gained and practices applied modifications and storage since course completion. The reservoirs.Figure 1. Map showing Arizona and YavapaiCounty. survey had a 26% response Twitter @CommWildFirePro to rate. Respondents rated their get timely wildfire defensibleMany Yavapai County (Figure knowledge on each topic before Figure 3. Photograph showing application of wildfire space information. defensible space principles: hardscape, non-1) residents live in the wildland- and after the course on a flammable mulch, vegetation reduction, andurban interface (Figure 2) and seven-step scale. Increases in retention of native plants.face significant risk of losing knowledge were described by Key Partnershipstheir home to catastrophic the number of steps each Arizona Office of the Statewildfire. Creation of wildfire Forester Abstract respondent indicated (Table 1). Yavapai County is in the central highlands of Arizona and includesdefensible space can greatly Specific practices were: Arizona Public Service desert scrub and grassland, chaparral, pinyon/juniper, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifer ecosystems. Many Yavapai County residents live inreduce the probability of wildfire Figure 2. Photograph showing the topography vegetation reduction on slopes; Arizona State Land Department the wildland-urban interface and face significant risk of losing their home in the event of a catastrophic wildfire. Creation of wildfire defensible and fuels present in the wildland urban interfacedamage to homes and property area in Prescott, Arizona. decisions on plant selection, Central Yavapai Fire District space can greatly reduce the probability of wildfire damage to homes and structures while also creating a safer environment for firefighters to protect those homes in the event of a catastrophic wildfire. Thewhile also creating a safer tree thinning and/or removal; FireWise Communities USA University of Arizona Yavapai County Cooperative Extension has been conducting defensible space education in collaboration with the Prescottenvironment for firefighters to Funding Highlands Center for Natural Area Wildland-Urban Interface Commission (PAWUIC) since 2000. In ladder fuel removal; defensible 2004, PL 106-393 Title III Forest Fee funding was received to enhanceprotect homes in the event of a The program has received History delivery of defensible space education. A half-time Instructional space zoning; use of fire- Prescott Fire Department Specialist was hired in 2005 to deliver defensible space educationcatastrophic wildfire (Figure 3). funding from Title III Forest across Yavapai County. Our initial needs assessment indicated resistive plants; and proper USDA Forest Service opportunities in the areas of: educating the public about potential wildfire risks and defensible space principles; collaborating with all YavapaiYavapai County Cooperative Fees and PAWUIC over the County fire departments to create a consistent defensible space pruning techniques. Yavapai County Government message; using fire-resistive plant materials to mitigate wildfire risk; andExtension has conducted past five years to support promoting the use of science-based horticultural practices such as pruning, mulching, and hardscaping to meet defensible space goals. Wedefensible space education in defensible space educational also identified an opportunity to teach defensible space principles to landscape professionals and designed a 12-hour, field-based, Wildfirecollaboration with the Prescott efforts ($143,326 total). Defensible Landscaper Course, the only one of its kind in Arizona. Defensible space education has reached 2,219 participants in a variety of venues. In addition, the Wildfire Defensible Landscaper Course hasArea Wildland-Urban Interface been offered five times with 65 graduates. Many other collaborative activities were undertaken and a few challenging situations wereCommission (PAWUIC) since encountered. Funding has been received from a variety of sources over the past five years to support these defensible space educational efforts2000. Website: extension.arizona.edu/yavapai/wildfire-survivable-space ($143,326 total).