Bob Lippman, the local Community Firewise coordinator said that, “as a 10-year Firewise Community, we have benefited greatly from the fire prevention and mitigation resources available through the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. These include lot hazard assessments, crew work for thinning and fuels reduction and chipping on private lots and the Castle Creek Greenbelt and adjacent state and federal lands. We have also developed a Community Fire Plan that will be available for public review this summer.”
The Castle Valley Fire Department worked with the Utah State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands to conduct a wildfire hazard assessment and develop a plan to address safety concerns. Residents then worked together to implement the plan. A committee comprising local and state officials is currently updating the assessment plan.
Castle Valley was the third community in Utah 10 years ago to be recognized as Firewise Communities/USA, joining many other communities nationwide that have been recognized since the program’s inception in 2002. To date, there are nine other Firewise communities in Utah and 884 nationwide.
To receive Firewise Communities/USA recognition, Castle Valley met a rigorous set of requirements by completing the following activities: 1. Conducting vegetation and fuel mitigation at various points around the perimeter of the town. 2. Working with local fire and forestry agencies to remove flammable vegetation from around homes and other neighborhood structures. 3. Creating and distributing questionnaires to determine public attitudes and awareness about wildfire risks and distributing Firewise information during local public events such as the annual Gourd Festival.
“Achieving Firewise recognition is not a quick or easy process. Castle Valley has done an outstanding job of creating a local Firewise Task Force and implementing Firewise principles,” said Michele Steinberg, support manager of the Firewise Communities program. “By preparing homes, structures, and landscapes before a wildfire occurs, Castle Valley has dramatically increased the chance that homes an structures will be protected when a wildfire occurs.”
Working through the National Association of State Foresters, state forestry agencies support the Firewise Communities/USA recognition effort. The program is a nationwide initiative that recognizes communities for taking action to protect people and properties from the risk of fire in the wildland/urban interface. This program is of special interest to small communities and neighborhood associations that are willing to mitigate against wildfire by adopting and implementing programs tailored to their needs. The communities create the programs themselves with cooperative assistance from state forestry agencies and local fire staff.
Anyone desiring a hazard assessment or free crew work on their lot may contact Lippman at 435-259-1182 or Alison Lerch, the Southeast Area Wildland-Urban Interface/Sovereign Lands Coordinator for the State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands at 435-259-3767.
With all of the hype about the nighttime closures of state Route 128 this week, an apparent delay in the delivery of bridge components caused the closures to be moved back a week. There will be no nightly closures from April 2 to April 5. Full closures will begin on the night of April 8 at 11:30 pm. A news release states that during the next two weeks work will consist of setting bent caps and girders for the pedestrian bridges. Nighttime closures will be in place to allow for the crane to set bridge girders. Bent caps will be set during daytime one-way closures as well as the final construction of abutments. Trail construction near Negro Bill Canyon and utility installation at the transit hub will continue.
Paving of SR 128 near the newly finished pedestrian tunnel should take place during the first week of April and traffic will return to normal traffic pattern, and the shoo-fly removed. “Any and all emergencies will be handled only through 911, which will be in direct contact with the contractor to allow responders access through the canyon,” according to the news release.
Thirty years ago this week, this column reported the death and funeral services for Ernest G. Foust, a pioneer resident of the community of Castle Valley. He lived a full and exciting life before retiring to the valley. He worked in maple camps, lumber camps and as a cowhand, deputy sheriff and followed the rodeo circuit, where an accident in the chute eventually caused the loss of his left leg. He traded five leather jackets that he made for a down payment on a piece of land on Shafer Lane, where he farmed and did tractor work for his neighbors.