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Wildfire risk is a reality in Park City–community input is needed

parker.jpg
Parker Malatesta
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Treasure Hill on Wednesday. This area looked different prior to the city's wildfire mitigation this summer.

Park City Municipal is looking for resident input as it enters into the next phase of its Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan.

The plan, which was adopted by the city council in 2021, establishes wildfire planning and mitigation efforts. The plan is now in the risk assessment stage, which looks to examine local hazards and identify certain areas of the city that are at high risk of wildfire.

Park City Trails and Open Space Manager Heinrich Deters told KPCW that public input on the risk assessment has been meager so far. He said getting feedback is important, as it can help the city get more money from grants.

“The grants themselves have components and scoring and a lot of that has to do with public outreach and engagement, and so we’re not going to score very highly if we have 14 people that we’ve reached through our open houses," Deters said. "So it’s very very important that we get the community to weigh in on some of that.”

Kate Napier-Janz is with Alpine Forestry and worked with the city on the wildfire mitigation work on Treasure Hill. She said community input is needed because it provides unique perspectives on wildfire risk.

“And so if we don’t hear from the public, the fear is that this risk assessment could turn out to be sort of generic," Napier-Janz said. "Something that doesn’t really assess and identify the true values at risk in this community. For example, the historic structures here.”

The input will help the city prioritize wildfire mitigation projects, something that is especially important given Park City’s proximity to potential burn areas. Despite the low fire season so far this year, Napier-Janz said the city is certainly at risk.

“We do have forests and these wildland vegetation types that are in the condition to burn," she said. "And so, initial fuel and fire behavior modeling does show a pretty high risk in many areas.”

The risk assessment survey can be found on engageparkcity.org. It takes roughly eight minutes to complete.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.