Monday, April 17, 2017

Making a Difference at the Community Level in Hawaii

Fuels reduction workday in action in Hawaii.  Photo: HWMO

We've highlighted the wildfire challenges in Hawaii before. Yep, Hawaii. The size and frequency of wildfires on the islands that make up the state of Hawaii have grown significantly in recent decades. Wildfires often burn a similar percentage of lands in Hawaii as they do in the western United States. Pablo Beimler with the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) published a blog post recently in which he discussed the recent accomplishments toward fire adapted communities on the islands. 

Hawaii's residents don't often make the connection between fire, drinking water availability and coastal water quality issues. Because the islands are so steep, its soil repels water and the weather often changes daily, fire's environmental impacts can be immediate. Runoff and debris from erosion following a fire has become a major concern - flooding coastal areas and smothering coral reefs which impacts tourism and fishery economies.

HWMO, with grants from the US Forest Service and State Farm Insurance, has used the Ready, Set, Go! and Firewise Communities frameworks as launching points to engage communities in fire adaptation efforts. They use the Ready, Set, GO! program to stimulate interest and once they identify community members who wish to take their action to the next level of preparedness, HWMO facilitates the Firewise Communities process. In total, HWMO has helped eight additional communities on Hawaii and Maui become Firewise since 2015!

These efforts not only build safer communities but help communities understand the risk and impacts of wildfire in Hawaii; prompting them to take and support actions to reduce that risk.  Fantastic Cohesive Strategy behavior! 

Read the full blog post here.   

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