By Michael Howell
Ravalli8x11UpdateRavalli County received official notification on May 22, from Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) Deputy Chief Bruce Suenram, that the Montana Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) maps for the state have been completed. The map shows those land parcels in the county that have been designated as falling within the WUI.
According to the letter, state law requires that the WUI boundaries be mapped as cadastral parcels.
“If the county’s WUI boundary included only a portion of the land area within a parcel, the Fire and Aviation Bureau mapped the entire parcel as WUI,” states Suenram. “DNRC did not set a level at which parcels with a very small WUI percentage were excluded. Individual counties can readjust WUI parcel boundaries as they update their Community Wildfire Protection Plans or when they deem appropriate,” he said.
Suenram also cautioned that the WUI parcel delineation was completed from January 2010 through December 2011 and that those cadastral data fields were kept as part of the WUI parcel data.
“Since the cadastral data is updated regularly, the cadastral information associated with the WUI parcels may be out of date,” wrote Suenram. He said there is no comprehensive plan to update the WUI or CWPP data.
Ravalli County’s CWPP was begun during the winter of 2002-2003 when residents got together to brainstorm and prioritize potential actions to address the most pressing issues that affect the Valley’s ability to reduce the risks associated with wildland fires. The strategy that emerged is a cooperative effort of volunteer fire chiefs, county officials, conservationists, community-based non-profit organizations, realtors, tourism and timber industry leaders, federal and state land managers, business people and interested residents.
The purpose of the plan is to position fire protection agencies, county leaders, rural communities, valley residents, and forest owners and managers to be better prepared to protect the County’s residents and its natural resources from the potentially devastating impacts of wildfire and promote the natural role of fire in the ecosystem. This plan will guide the implementation of the National Fire Plan and the related 10 Year Comprehensive Strategy and Implementation Plan, in the Bitterroot Valley.
The plan deals with fire prevention and suppression, hazardous fuel treatment, restoration of fire-adapted ecosystems, and community assistance. It is intended to be an adaptive document, one that will continue to be updated annually or as needed, to reflect the community’s accomplishments and the newly emerging needs, issues, and opportunities surrounding wildland fire management in Ravalli County. The Bitter Root RC&D, Bitterroot National Forest, State of Montana DNRC, Wildland Urban Interface Task Force, and All Valley Fire Council will share responsibility for facilitation of annual updates.
Ravalli County’s CWPP and WUI map can be viewed and printed at the DNRC Fire and Aviation website: www.dnrc.mt.gov/Forestry/Fire/WUI/cwppdefault.asp