The Wildland/Urban Interface
The wildland urban interface (WUI) is the area where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland, forest or vegetative fuels. North Carolina has more WUI acres than any other state in the country and our growth increases this acreage every year. The interface creates great challenges for fire managers as nearly every fire or its associated smoke may impact homes, roads, farms or other development.
The North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS), fire departments and communities across the state are working together to prevent, prepare for and lessen the impact of wildfires. At a national level, the agency is leading an interagency group to prepare for large fire events. As a member of the Southern Group of State Foresters, the Forest Service is continuously evaluating the growth of the WUI through the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment (SWRA).
Community Protection Plans (CPPs)
The USDA Forest Service's Community Protection Grant Program was established to provide funding to states to prevent wildfires and mitigate fire hazards that threaten communities surrounding national forestland. NCFS, USDA Forest Service, communities and other cooperators are developing a mitigation and prevention plan for each national forest in North Carolina. NCFS uses controlled burning and mechanical treatments to reduce forest fuel loading in and around the communities identified on these plans. These services are performed at no cost to the landowner by the agency with funding assistance provided by the USDA Forest Service.
Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs)
The NC Forest Service also works with local emergency management and fire departments to develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs). CWPPs are holistic fire management plans that evaluate wildfire hazards and provide preparedness, mitigation, and prevention recommendations at the fire district level. You may contact your county ranger or fire chief to learn more about your area's CWPP and how you can help implement its recommendations.
Firewise Communities USA
Communities are taking action by implementing CWPP recommendations or becoming involved in the Firewise Communities USA program. To get your community involved and apply for community awards, contact your county ranger. Landowners are also mitigating hazardous fuel conditions on their property through prescribed fire and other techniques and individual homeowners are maintaining their home exteriors and using fire resistant landscaping. Outreach to communities through Smokey Bear programs, school programs and community meetings are conducted regularly to educate citizens about fire prevention and mitigation opportunities.