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Muse

The community of Muse is located in rural Glades County, 27 miles northeast of Fort Myers and about 23 miles west of Lake Okeechobee. It is a rural community comprised of about 560 households.

The Firewise effort began when Muse was selected to receive a rural development grant for fuel reduction. The local Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council applied for the funds through the Florida Division of Forestry. Community meetings followed and a Firewise Committee was formed to help develop a community risk assessment and implement the mitigation work. During the following year, mechanical fuel reduction and prescribed burning were initiated in the areas considered to be critical for reducing overall fire risk to the community. As a result of the work done by both private contractors and the Florida Division of Forestry (DOF) Region IV Mitigation Team, fire breaks were established in the northern area of Muse where history had shown most severe wildfires to initiate. Grant monies were used to pay private contractors. DOF's services were funded by state mitigation funds. Mitigation work will continue in the community as part of the overall plan.

During the Muse Firewise Day, residents gathered to share lunch and learn about the mitigation project and the importance of defensible space around their homes. Using Living on the Edge in Florida, residents learned about why homes burn, how to create defensible space, the basics of wildland fire suppression, and ways they could lower their community's wildfire risk.

Following the Firewise Day, committee members contacted everyone who attended to determine interest in having mitigation work completed on their properties. A letter was sent to every resident of the community, detailing the project and assessing interest in mitigation treatment. Once responses were received, the properties were ranked and ordered according to their locations. When finished, the committee had compiled a list of approximately 30 properties, representing mitigation treatment of approximately 1,500 acres.

At the completion of the grant period (June 2005), the award will have funded $18,000 in mitigation treatment. In addition, DOF teams will have provided over $10,000 of in-kind services through its Region IV Mitigation team.