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Firewise Landscaping and Protecting Your Home From Wildfire


In the wake of the Parleys Canyon Fire, how can you protect your home or business from future wildfires? 


The Wasatch Back is located in what’s called a wildland-urban interface. That’s where the forest touches civilization and it’s very vulnerable to wildfires.


With little or no natural defence against fires like vast areas of open space, homeowners have had to get proactive when it comes to protecting their property.


David Kottler was in Park City Leadership class 25. Their class project was to organize the best information available on how to defend from wildfires into one easy to understand source. 


“When we started looking around, none of us were experts in the field and so we started basically from scratch doing our own research and what we found was there’s a lot of information out there,” said Kottler. “We wanted to compile everything in a simple, pretty brief resource guide that residents of Summit County could use to educate themselves about what to do around their own homes.”


Kottler and his classmates coordinated with the Park City Fire District and the Summit County fire warden to gather the information. 


The resource guide teaches homeowners about things like firewise landscaping. From tips like keeping your roof free of dry debris to which materials to use when building your house, Kottler said firewise landscaping starts at the home and works out from there.


“There’s different tiers of importance,” he said. “You want to start with your house and your defensible space, which is typically referred to as about five feet outside the perimeter of your structure, and then the further out you go from your structure, there’s some other recommendations.”


Some of those same tactics, like limiting the amount of overgrowth and dry brush on your property, can be scaled up and used by forest crews when they are fighting a wildfire or working to limit the risk of one happening in the first place.


Efforts like Basin Recreation’s multi-year forest health project are working to reduce the amount of overgrowth and fuel in the Summit Park area.


The Park City Fire District credited those efforts and a quick response time for limiting the Parleys Canyon Fire to only 541 acres, which is small by wildfire standards.


Fire mitigation efforts will become more important in the future, experts say, as climate change and drought have dried out forests and made large fires more likely.


A link to the Summit County Fire Warden’s fire resource guide can be found here.


KPCW news reports on climate change issues are brought to you by the Park City Climate Fund at the Park City Community Foundation, an initiative that engages Park City in implementing local, high-impact climate solutions that have potential to be effective in similar communities.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.
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