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Firewise effort keeps Verdes safe

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Firewise effort keeps Verdes safe

It has been 20 summers since Rio Verde residents felt the heat of the Rio Fire breathing down their necks, and while a shift in the wind sent the fire away from the community residents found there were lessons well learned. Defensible space became a watchword for residents in providing some protection for homes that back close to the desert wild land. After becoming a Firewise community several years ago the Verdes today find maintenance of that defensible space as much a part of the community infrastructure as the streets and golf courses and keeping up that buffer is routine. Earlier this month a landscape crew completed its cleaning up of the 70-foot buffer along the McDowell Mountain Park boundary to the west of Rio Verde. There has also been some work on open space wash areas within the communities. The Verdes Wildfire Protection, Inc., the non-profit organized to fund maintenance of the defensible space, reports there is a lot of progress being made this year heading into the summer wildfire season. The Rio Verde Fire District continues to help manage the prevention program to reduce fuels in the desert. In late March Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District announced it had been approved for a fire fuel reduction program adjacent to Rio Verde. A study under the National Fire Protection Act evaluated and approved the project. This project will focus on reducing fuels on Tonto Forest land between the Verde Communities and the Verde River. This is the final phase of the fuels reduction project on the perimeter of the communities’ boundary with the desert. The process began in 2001 using government grants and contributions from the communities. The project is expected to be completed by the end of summer. The Firewise programs along with RVFD will continue to maintain the buffers on an approximately three-year cycle.

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