American River Watershed Institute
Fire Safety Project | Pilot Project

Project Conclusions, Education and Outreach

The project was successfully completed, though there were significant challenges. Some of these challenges were:
  • Timing for outreach on fire issues is both seasonal and opportunistic (high response after serious fire threats), and the project timeline was not optimally suited to take advantage of either. This resulted in community response that lacked energy and focus, with the exception of the Hillcrest neighborhood.
  • The construction phase was significantly weather challenged, occurring during the wettest winter periods in years. This is covered in detail in Lessons Learned in the Final Grant Report (PDF*, 5.2 MB).
  • Participant evaluations (PDF*, 92 KB) show the participants' perception of success. See also detailed participant feedback (PDF*, 1.83 MB).
  • The strategic plan proposed a network of shaded fuel breaks to increase protection of the entire Colfax area community. Funding will be a substantial challenge. Proposals for regional sources of funding are included in the Final Grant Report (PDF*, 5.2 MB).

Two approaches were taken to the project's education and outreach component:

  1. A presentation (PDF*, 18 MB) of the project results was created and delivered at seven public meetings. Final results have been formatted into five smaller presentations: Part 1 (PDF*, 3.4 MB), Part 2 (PDF*, 2.2 MB), Part 3 (PDF*, 3.3 MB), Part 4 (PDF*, 3.8 MB), and Part 5 (PDF*, 2.6 MB).
  2. A CD and web-based outreach product was created to address a wide range of audiences who would find interest in parts or all of the project. The CD is available for $5 (to cover costs of reproduction, handling, and shipping) from ARWI, PO Box 1750, Colfax, CA 95713. All of the materials on the CD are on this website:

Overall Conclusion

Communities can and will self-organize to take action to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, if appropriate support is provided. In addition to defensible space around homes, shaded fuel breaks are needed to extend greater fire safety for neighborhoods. A network of shaded fuel breaks will extend greater fire safety for our communities, cities, and towns.

Dangerously high fuel loading has increased the risk of catastrophic fire to communities in this region. The potential disaster scenario requires public policy changes to develop and implement a robust program to remedy this condition. Realization of the magnitude of the threat has only come recently, as a consequence of the losses in the 2003 fire storm in southern California.

An adequate program will require large-scale multi-agency planning and the appropriate allocation of resources over a long term. The investment in fire safety will need to be substantial and ongoing to protect lives and property, and to preserve the Sierra Nevada forest ecosystem.