Community Meetings Scheduled to Gather Input for Wildfire Protection Plans
By Maui Now Staff
The Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization, in collaboration with the Maui Wildfire Coordinating Group, Maui Fire Department and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife will hold community meetings to help develop new Community Wildfire Protection Plans for Upcountry/Central Maui and South Maui. All full-time and part-time residents in these areas are encouraged to attend.
The meeting will be held in conjunction with a Hazard Mitigation Plan Update meeting also being held that evening.
As drought episodes increase and land use continues to change, working at all levels to mitigate wildfire is becoming essential. Community input is critical to the CWPP process in determining priority wildfire concerns, needs, and action steps to better prepare and protect fire-prone areas from wildfires. The CWPP update meetings will identify and prioritize projects to reduce the threat of wildfire to Upcountry/Central and South Maui communities.
CWPPs have become a prerequisite for federal funding for wildfire protection projects. A CWPP assists a community in identifying and prioritizing areas for hazardous fuel reduction treatments, and supports communities to take action.
The plan assesses values at risk such as safety, natural resource protection, recreation, scenic values and economic issues. CWPPs are a collaborative effort with input from community members, firefighting agencies and related organizations. These plans are becoming increasingly important in Hawaiʻi. They bring wildfire hazard information and planning/action opportunities to all who are affected, making it possible to more effectively address wildfire.
Lance De Silva, Maui Forest Management supervisor with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, points out that a CWPP isn’t just another federal study.
“A CWPP is a community-based ‘roots’ process to outline wildfire risks to a community and to catalyze projects that can reduce those risks,” said De Silva. “In Upcountry/Central and South Maui, we need to reduce our risks from mauka to makai. This is an important opportunity for communities to have a say over the priorities in the plan and to seek funds for the wildfire mitigation projects that residents themselves identify. Invest your time to protect your investments.”
“The number one defense against the effects of a wildfire to your community is prevention,” said Maui County Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray. “The Maui Fire Department stands ready to respond to the needs of our community. This includes responding through prevention and collaborative efforts to reduce the threat of wildfires to your community. We are a proud team member with the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, and your community, in providing you with information and assistance in the sustainability of your community through fire prevention efforts.”
“CWPPs are meant to tie into existing or planned projects,” says Elizabeth Pickett, Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization executive director. “Many communities are developing disaster plans or long-range community plans, and the CWPP is meant to complement those plans. It will be a useful tool for community members to help make Maui’s neighborhoods and natural areas fire-safe. Wildfires tie into many natural resource, municipal, and community issues, so this is an important opportunity for communities to learn, have their voices heard, and get involved.”
Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and natural resources from wildfire, will facilitate the meetings. HWMO’s partners include Maui County Fire Department, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the National Park Service, University of Hawaiʻi Cooperative Extension, large landowners, ranchers, scientists and community members.
For more information regarding the informational meetings or the Community Wildfire Protection Plans for Maui, contact Ilene Grossman, HWMO CWPP project manager, at [email protected] or Elizabeth Pickett, HWMO executive director, at [email protected] or (808) 885-0900.
Meetings will be held at the following locations and times:
Makawao Eddie Tam Center
931 Makawao Ave.
Kula Community Center
3690 E. Lower Kula Road
Kīhei Community Center
303 E. Lipoa St.