Firewise grants awarded in Rowan, Morgan, Elliott counties

Press Release Date: Thursday, November 16, 2006
Contact Information: Gwen Holt, (502) 564-4496



MOREHEAD, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2006) - Firewise councils in Morgan and Rowan counties and a volunteer fire department in Elliott County today were awarded Firewise Community Grants for their work to pinpoint local wildland fire hazards and teach citizens of their communities how to protect their property.

"One way in which we build strong communities and healthy Kentuckians is by reducing the risk of fires in areas where urban development meets our wild lands," said Teresa J. Hill, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC), who made the presentations. "On behalf of Governor Ernie Fletcher, itís a pleasure to distribute these grants to volunteer fire departments and local Firewise Councils that have shown such foresight."

The Northeast Rowan County Firewise Council received a $16,000 grant to reduce the fuel of wildland fires in areas identified as high-risk. The fire department will target homes that lack defensible space and provide these homes with Firewise signs. The fire department also will continue Firewise educational efforts and its plan to nominate three communities in its service area for national Firewise Communities USA recognition.

The Eastern Morgan County Firewise Council received a $23,468 grant to reduce hazardous fuels in high-risk areas and complete a community wildfire protection plan. The council also plans to continue Firewise educational efforts in the community.

In Elliott County, the Route 504 Volunteer Fire Department received a $23,000 grant to conduct a wildfire hazard assessment in its service area and complete a community wildfire protection plan. It will team with the Army Corps of Engineers to assess wildfire risks to properties at Grayson Lake and Grayson Lake State Park. Once Firewise practices have been implemented, a local home will be used as a model to show other landowners how to mitigate hazardous fuels.

Area legislators - state Sens. Robert Stivers and Walter Blevins and state Rep. Rocky Adkins - said the community grants would be put to good use.

"We love our homes, but we also love our forests in eastern Kentucky," said Stivers, R-Manchester, whose district includes Morgan County. "So, this type of planning and preventive action is especially important."

Blevins, D-Sandy Hook, whose district includes Elliott and Rowan counties, said prevention of wildland fires carries financial as well as environmental and social benefits.

"As our communities grow, development will unavoidably run up against our natural areas," Blevins said. "That makes it essential to identify and mitigate fire risks, which hopefully will keep insurance rates low."

Adkins, the House majority floor leader and also a resident of Sandy Hook, said the Firewise grants, "with the help of our volunteer fire departments, will educate our communities on how to prevent destructive forest fires and wild fires which happen in our region of Kentucky."

"Just as important is that these monies will benefit our people and our communities in responding to these dangerous and devastating fires," Adkins said.

Grants are funded by the USDA Forest Service and distributed by the Kentucky Division of Forestry, an agency of EPPC. Firewise grants are awarded for projects designed to reduce wildfire risks and hazards in areas where urban development meets wild lands. Grant recipients must provide a 20 percent match. For information, contact the Division of Forestry, (502) 564-4496, or visit the Web site, www.firewise.ky.gov <http://www.firewise.ky.gov>