Photo Credit: Setting Goals for 2020. Photo by Emily Troisi
When your focus is helping your community live better with fire, your work is never done. Get more accomplished in 2020 by setting achievable goals and working with your partners. Not sure where to start? Here are some month-by-month ideas:
Get out your calendar. Considering your ecosystem-type, fire regime, your partners and upcoming opportunities, create a set of trackable goals for 2020. Put them on your calendar—and think about the actual steps and actions you’ll need to plan out in advance to accomplish them. Put those on your calendar as well. What gets scheduled gets done.
Watch the weather forecast. Take stock of available burn units in your community. Every day is not a great burn day for every unit, but we need to expand our view of what “burn day” looks like and take advantage of more opportunities to get fire on the ground. In Northern California, February is a good time to ask, “who has a south-facing parcel dotted with oaks? Are there piles we haven’t gotten to yet?”
If you don’t already have one, make a list of all of your partners. Give it a scan. Who haven’t you connected with lately? Who will be important in helping you reach some of your 2020 goals? Call those people. Tell them about your goals for the year and how you’ve envisioned their role. Ask them how you can support their goals.
Host a community preparedness review. Depending on the scale you work at, gather your neighbors, or cooperators, or host a public event. Use your CWPP, FAC SAT or other similar plan as a conversation starter. Ask “what projects are planned for our area this year? Are we working with local emergency responders to consider evacuation plans? What could we accomplish together that we can’t alone?”
Organize a community preparedness day event. Looking for ideas? FAC Net compiled a list of project inspiration—including approximate costs and the time required for planning. When choosing an event, think about your most important needs and assets. In some communities, that might mean focusing on the Home Ignition Zone. In others, a business resilience initiative might be long overdue.
Do residents in your community have go-bags? Next time you’re at the local coffee shop or in line at the grocery store, strike up a conversation with some of the other customers. Find out if they have go-bags and an evacuation plan in case of a wildfire. If you hear a resounding “no”, reach out to some potential partners—local fire departments, Office of Emergency Management, even local church groups—together, host a go-bag and personal evacuation planning event.
Zoom in on the Home Ignition Zone. When it comes to protecting homes from burning in a wildfire, there is no more important focus than the Home Ignition Zone. While ideally residents in your community are taking action to clean their gutters and keep their landscaping trimmed earlier in the year (and throughout the growing season), July can be a good time to conduct HIZ assessments and talk with residents about home hardening.
Engage with your local stakeholders and partners. Smoke can negatively impact resident health and local economies. It can also be an excellent way to begin engaging your local business community in fire adaptation work. Get out that partner list you made earlier in the spring. Are there any local businesses or a Chamber of Commerce listed? How about your air quality regulators? Public health officials? If you don’t already have a relationship with these folks, consider engaging them. From mitigating the impacts of wildfire smoke, to managing smoke-sensitive resident needs during prescribed fires, your partnerships with the business and public health sectors can be big factors in minimizing the downsides of a wildfire in or near your community.
Participate in planning, regulation, and policy activities. Is your local Community Wildfire Protection Plan or Hazard Mitigation Plan being revised? How about the county General Plan? If you don’t already have a beat on the timeline for these plans and their revision schedules in your community, find out when they’ll be updated. Participating in planning, policy and regulation setting activities can be an important way to influence priorities and set direction.
Strengthen the local workforce. How many people in your community own a drip torch and know how to use it? Are you helping to organize and strengthen the local workforce? While this doesn’t apply everywhere, many communities lack access to a cross-trained workforce that can conduct land management—including prescribed burning. You can begin addressing this shortage by hosting a cooperative burn with partners. Or, depending on the context, perhaps a Prescribed Burn Association could fulfill the prescribed fire training needs and implementation goals in your community.
Call a local theater or performing arts center. Find out if they’d be willing to partner with you to host a screening and community conversation this month. Films such as Wilder than Wild, and Catching Fire: Prescribed Fire in Northern California, can be a great entry point to talking with your community about local fire issues. Or, try a book club approach. Select a book (we’ve heard The Big Burn is a good choice) and host a book club with local residents.
Reflect back on the progress you and your partners have made this year. Celebrate what you achieved and what you learned. What went right? What did not go to plan? What will you do next year?
Already starting to set your goals for the new year? What will your focus be in 2020?
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