Filmmakers salute Prescott’s wildfire success

Filmmakers salute Prescott’s wildfire success

22 August 2009

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USA — The Prescott area will highlight a new DVD about real-life examples of how communities work together to reduce wildfire danger.

Oregon State University researchers chose five U.S. communities to highlight in the video, and wrapped up filming Thursday in Prescott.

Ryan Gordon, a Ph.D research assistant in OSU’s Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society, said the goal of the DVD is to capture the essence of what makes local collaborative efforts socially successful.

“We wanted to provide some real-life examples,” added Bruce Shindler, a professor at OSU’s Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society.

As many as 2,000 of the DVDs will go out to communities and agencies throughout the world, with the hope that the recipients can learn how to create successful partnerships in their areas too. A written implementation guide will help them get started.

Gordon and research assistant Stacey Frederick hope to complete the DVD by summer 2010.

Other regions/groups featured in the DVD include the Northeast Washington (State) Forestry Coalition; Rich County, Utah; Taylor County, Fla.; and the Teton Interagency Fire Program.

“I would say that all the sites are highly successful and all are at various stages,” Gordon said. “We all know this is an ongoing story.”

The DVD is part of a larger “Creating Fire-Safe Communities” effort made possible by a $200,000 grant from the U.S. government’s Joint Fire Science Program, Shindler explained.

Shindler has been collaborating with the Fire Science Program as a research expert for about a decade, and he helped Gordon choose the communities to feature in his DVD.

The Prescott Area Wildland/Urban Interface Commission (PAWUIC) leads the Prescott-area efforts.

“They found a way to work together in everybody’s interest,” said Shindler, who has been familiar with PAWUIC efforts for nearly a decade.

PAWUIC members include federal, state and local government agencies, as well as local citizens just interested in protecting their communities.

Gordon and Frederick interviewed Gary Roysdon, PAWUIC chair; Laura Jo West, Bradshaw District ranger for thePrescott National Forest; Jeff Schalau, Yavapai County Cooperative Extension Office director; Darrell Willis, Prescott fire chief; Charlie Cook, Central Yavapai fire marshal; Tanya Baker, a local rancher who uses her goats to reduce overgrown brush in urbanized areas; Scott Hunt of the State Forester’s office; Bruce Olsen with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management fire program; and Nick Angiolillo, Yavapai County Emergency Management coordinator. All are PAWUIC members.

“There is a lot of great stuff going on, and it’s difficult to single any one thing out,” Gordon said of PAWUIC. “But when we think about PAWUIC, we see a high level of commitment on both sides.”

Dedicated volunteers such as Roysdon get things done alongside a dedicated group of professionals who go out of their way to provide resources and support, Gordon said.

“The volunteers inspire and motivate the local agencies to keep things going,” he added.

Roysdon spent much of Monday through Thursday taking the film crew to various interviews.

Baker also is a PAWUIC volunteer. The crew visited Baker’s Settler Valley Ranch near Dewey to hear about a pilot project between PAWUIC and the ranch to see how the goats can help create defensible space.

Baker said Olson and Jeff Spohn of Arizona Public Service helped connect her with PAWUIC.

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