Wilson neighborhood recognized for wildfire risk reduction

WILSON, Wyo. —Hidden Hills Ranches, a subdivision south of Wilson, was recently recognized as a Firewise® USA site—a National Fire Protection Association program that recognizes neighborhoods for taking proactive steps to reduce the risk of property damage from wildfire and improve safety for residents and firefighters.

The Hidden Hills neighborhood exceeded the expectations of the program after years of effort and implementing numerous wildfire risk reduction projects, with the support of local and regional partners including Jackson Fire/EMS, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming State Forestry Division, and Teton Conservation District.

Hidden Hills resident Greg Nelson, also a Teton Wildfire Ambassador, has spent countless days planning and leading projects to make his neighborhood more fire resilient, including obtaining a Wyoming State Forestry Division grant to support fuels reduction at 18 properties. Other efforts included vegetation management along road corridors, and 11 homes participated in Teton Conservation District’s Wildfire Risk Reduction Program—a program that offers free, voluntary recommendations to reduce the risk of wildfire and grant funding to implement those recommendations. Cumulatively, the neighborhood has invested hundreds of hours into wildfire risk reduction efforts.

Project during and after photos to reduce vegetation along roads. Photos: Greg Nelson.

“Becoming a Firewise community is no small effort—we thank Greg Nelson and his Hidden Hills neighbors for all they’ve done to enhance their safety, firefighter safety, and forest health,” says Bobbi Clauson, Wildland Fire Prevention Specialist for Jackson Hole Fire/EMS. “We can already see neighboring subdivisions gaining momentum from witnessing Hidden Hill’s successes.”

Hidden Hills is surrounded by forest and is within the Wildland Urban Interface—an area designated by Teton County as being at greater risk for wildfire. Wildfire risk reduction work has also been completed on adjacent Bridger-Teton National Forest lands as part of the Teton to Snake Fuels Reduction project. “While interagency wildland firefighters implemented fuels reduction projects on wildlands, the neighbors of Hidden Hills have worked diligently assessing homes, designing mitigation strategies, cutting trees, chipping vegetation, and burning slash piles on their properties to help reduce vegetation on the private side of the fence,” says Lesley Williams-Gomez, Fire Prevention and Education Specialist for the North Zone of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. “This combined effort in fuels mitigation has created a safe and defensible space for firefighters responding to a wildland fire within the vicinity of their homes.”

Shane Rothman and David Quellhorst contributing to fuels reduction work in their neighborhood common space. Photo: Greg Nelson.

But the work for Hidden Hills is not over. The neighborhood intends to maintain its Firewise® USA status and is planning future projects including annual road corridor maintenance and water sources for fire suppression. “The certification of Hidden Hills as a Firewise USA community was driven by the engagement of the homeowners, willingness to embrace fuels treatments, and a commitment to continue to improve fire readiness. Their passion and commitment made the certification possible,” says Barry Tye of Wyoming State Forestry Division.

To learn more about participating in the Firewise program or to learn more about other wildfire risk reduction actions you can take at your home or in your neighborhood, reach out to Bobbi Clauson, Wildland Fire Prevention Specialist, at 307-732-8588 or bclauson@tetoncountywy.gov.

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Sponsored by Teton Conservation District

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