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Hidden Valley Ranch

After meeting extensive and rigorous requirements for making its homes and unimproved areas Firewise, Hidden Valley Ranch was achieved Firewise Communities/USA status. Hidden Valley Ranch is the largest homeowner association (HOA) in the Prescott quad-city area. Prescott is the largest city within a four city contiguous grouping in central Arizona, in the mountains at an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet. The Hidden Valley Ranch is mountainous and primarily forested, studded with thousands of pine trees and ground vegetation. A forest fire in 2004 came within a mile of the southern edge of the community and residents were briefly evacuated from their homes.

A committee of homeowners under the chairmanship of Ben Tuttle worked with the Prescott Fire Department and the Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Committee (PAWUIC) in initiating wildfire hazard assessments of homes and unimproved space within the area. It then developed a comprehensive plan to address the fire safety concerns involved. Residents worked together cooperatively to implement the plan. The committee meets approximately once a month to maintain the program's momentum.

To receive Firewise Communities/USA recognition, Hidden Valley Ranch residents completed vegetation and fuel mitigation activities, working with the local fire and forestry agencies to remove flammable vegetation from around homes and other structures, distributed Firewise information to raise public awareness. Homeowners also conducted community meetings and open houses to explain Firewise and educate their neighbors about the Firewise plan.

Hidden Valley Ranch established a "library" of books, videotapes and DVDs on developing defensible space and other Firewise subjects for residents. It is accessible in the HOA's community facility. A DVD produced by the City of Prescott audio/visual volunteers that explains the potential dangers of a wildfire, what the citizens can do to develop adequate defensible space around their homes, and an explanation that creating defensible space does not involve clear cutting of the plants and trees on the property is available to any resident from the Hidden Valley office. Local officials, Fire Chief Darrell Willis, Prescott City Director of Emergency Management and Jeremy Brinkerhoff, Wildland Coordinator for the Prescott Fire Department narrate the films.

Hidden Valley Ranch committee members are very aware that Firewise communities must renew their designation each year by continuing the program they have established. Hidden Valley Ranch residents are now working on the current year's plan. Timber Ridge, Highland Pines, Groom Creek, Foothills, and Forest Trails are other communities in the Prescott quad-cities area that are currently recognized by the Firewise Communities/USA program.

Hidden Valley Ranch is planning an official Firewise Day for its homeowners in October and already participated in a PAWUIC "Wildfire Expo" on Prescott's Courthouse Square. Firefighting equipment was on display that day and personnel were there to talk about fire prevention in the Prescott quad-cities area.