Members of the Island Park/West Yellowstone Sustainable Fire Community discuss wildland-urban interface issues and potential fuel reduction projects on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Idaho. Photo credit: Wendy Fulks

Topic: Collaboration Defensible space / Firewise Evacuation outreach/planning Type: Success Story / Lessons Learned

Forest Service Recognizes Accomplishments of Diverse Collaborative in Idaho/Montana

Authors: Wendy Fulks

On October 22, 2014 the Island Park/West Yellowstone Sustainable Fire Community (IPSFC) received the Conserving Open Space award from the USDA Forest Service Intermountain Region. The award was one of 10 Regional Forester Awards given each year to recognize Forest Service individuals, work units, partners or groups who have made exemplary contributions to management of the Intermountain Region. The selections are made from nominations across the region. Formed in 2011, IPSFC joined the FAC Learning Network earlier this year. The group is also one of three Western Region Cohesive Strategy demonstration sites.

The award recognized IPSFC “for promoting community awareness of living with wildfire.” The following award citation is a good summary of the group and its recent accomplishments.

The Island Park/West Yellowstone Sustainable Fire Community is a diverse group of individuals dedicated to creating a landscape resilient to fire, insect and disease through awareness, outreach and action. A Collaborative Group formed to lead and coordinate this effort. The Collaborative Group is comprised of representatives from land management agencies, research, Bureau of Homeland Security, Fremont County, Gallatin County, Island Park landowners, City of Island Park and West Yellowstone, forest products industry, insurance companies,  Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, Fire Learning Network, Fire Adapted Communities and Fall River Electric. This coordination/collaboration occurs over two National Forests, two states, two counties, two Forest Service Regions, two fire districts and two cities.

The group has received two grants, hired a full time project coordinator, provided free home/lot fuels evaluations to over 100 property owners, completed six fuels reduction demonstration sites, provided educational materials and information about wildfire and hazardous fuels reduction to over 500 residents and visitors, developed and utilized a social media plan to effectively reach the public in Island Park and West Yellowstone, determined wildfire risk for the landscape and all individual properties in the project area, shared our success and failures with other fire adapted communities and developed a five year strategic plan. Island Park and West Yellowstone Sustainable Fire Community became a member of the Fire Adapted Community organization; selected as one of 18 communities across the United States to join this learning organization.

Yale Creek signs

Reducing risk in Island Park, Idaho’s Yale Creek neighborhood is a priority for the Island Park/West Yellowstone Sustainable Fire Community. Photo credit: Wendy Fulks

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Forest Service. Our group of mostly volunteers has worked hard over the years to build consensus on how to address wildland-urban interface issues in Island Park and West Yellowstone. We face some major challenges, and all the partners are committed to further engaging the public to make the situation better,” said Liz Davy, District Ranger for the Ashton/Island Park Ranger District.

An awards celebration was held in Ogden, Utah on October 22, 2014 and Keith Richey (Fremont County, Idaho Emergency Manager) and Garth Smelser, Forest Supervisor for the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, accepted the award on behalf of IPSFC. On January 28, 2015 a celebration will be held for the entire group in Ashton, Idaho. Supervisor Smelser will present the award to members of the group.