The Wildfire Mitigation Awards committee has named the three individuals chosen to receive 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Awards. This year’s recipients have earned the highest commendation for innovation and leadership in wildfire mitigation. They are:
Northern Sonoma Fire Protection District/CAL FIRE | Geyserville, CA
As a battalion chief with the CAL FIRE Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit and fire chief for the Northern Sonoma County (NoSoCo) Fire Protection District (FPD), Marshall Turbeville personifies the consummate firefighting professional. Over the course of his career in Northern Sonoma County, Chief Turbeville has secured funding for the creation of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) for Mill Creek and NE Geyserville and CWPP updates for the Lake Sonoma Watershed, Fitch Mountain, and the County of Sonoma (which all together cover upwards of 2,000 square miles and 600,000 residents).
His fuels mitigation work includes establishing, training, and deploying a NoSoCo FPD fuels management team that has provided hundreds of miles of vegetation management services and thousands of residents with defensible space home inspections and counsel for home-hardening. Chief Turbeville has also dramatically improved wildfire mitigation and response as a founding member of COPE Northern Sonoma County, a non-profit fire safe council that covers about 330,000 acres and more than 100,000 residents.
West Region Wildfire Council | Montrose, CO
As a wildfire mitigation specialist for the West Region Wildfire Council (WRWC), Courtney Haynes works with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to serve a six-county-area—called the “West Region”—roughly 5.6 million acres in size. In coordination with CSFS, Courtney regularly makes site visits to assess wildfire risk, recommend home-hardening strategies, and educate homeowners about WRWC’s cost-share program. She has made measurable improvements to the program, including boosting its reach and increasing participation to 134 homeowners (who in turn established defensible space and reduced fuels on 725 acres). In total, her cost-share program work has helped to protect at least 619 homes from wildfire.
Courtney has exceeded all of WRWC’s annual targets by engaging 788 residents across 40 at-risk Wildland Urban Interface/Intermix (WUI) communities in Colorado’s “West Region.” Her leadership has been instrumental in: (1) 485 homeowners in 22 WUI communities disposing of 262,885 cubic feet of slash, (2) Trout Lake (a community in San Miguel County) developing a Community Assessment for wildfire risk, and (3) the Ouray County Land Use Planning Commission strengthening the Wildfire Mitigation Section of its Land Use Code.
Snyderville Basin Recreation District | Park City, UT
Jessica Kirby has profoundly shaped public perceptions of wildland fire. As the acting open space management supervisor for the Snyderville Basin Recreation District, Jessica oversees 2,300 acres of trails and forest. She has formed partnerships with Summit County officials, local fire and sheriff agencies, and homeowners associations to improve existing wildfire emergency response plans, create Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP), and encourage Firewise program participation.
Having lost her own home to wildfire several years ago, Jessica understands the urgency of addressing wildfire risk. She has made it her goal to protect Communities at Risk from wildfire. Navigating limited budgets in multiple communities, Jessica has transformed the landscape in Summit County, improving an emergency access route between three communities, implementing a 50-acre fuel break, treating 200 acres of mixed vegetation, and leading community outreach efforts that challenge the “it won’t happen here” attitude.
The Wildfire Mitigation Awards program was established in 2014 by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to help demonstrate the tremendous societal value wildfire mitigation efforts provide.
“State forestry agencies know firsthand it’s always wildfire season somewhere in the United States. The 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Awardees know this too,” said Joe Fox, NASF president and Arkansas state forester. “In their own ways, this year’s winners have ensured the safety of thousands through their wildfire mitigation efforts. We congratulate them for receiving this honor and thank them for their dedication to this critically important work.”
“Wildland fire remains a pressing issue for us. The threat to our environment, property, and lives demands our attention,” said Chief Richard Carrizzo, IAFC president and chairman of the board. “This is why I am honored to congratulate this year’s National Wildfire Mitigation Award winners for their exceptional leadership and contributions to risk-reduction efforts in their communities. Keep up the good work and stay safe.”
“The Wildfire Mitigation Awards continue to serve as a meaningful opportunity to recognize the many contributions to wildfire safety. The National Fire Protection Association congratulates the 2021 recipients of the Awards and thanks them for their accomplishments and outstanding efforts to reduce fire risk in their communities,” said Michele Steinberg, director of the Wildfire Division at NFPA.
“We’re proud to be a part of this annual effort to recognize such dedicated individuals in the area of community wildfire mitigation,” said Patricia Grantham, acting director of Fire and Aviation Management for the USDA Forest Service. “The work of mitigation specialists often goes unnoticed, but can make a tremendous difference to communities impacted by wildfires.”
The 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Awards will be presented at the Wildland-Urban Interface Conference in Reno, Nevada, scheduled for November 14-15, 2021. The nominations period for the 2022 Wildfire Mitigation Awards opens today. For more information about the awards program and how you can nominate your mitigation hero for national recognition, visit www.stateforesters.org/mitigation.