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River Run Plantation

River Run PlantationRiver Run Plantation is a 375 acre community situated along the Lockwood Folly River, in Southeastern Brunswick County, North Carolina (NC). This section of NC is referred to as the Tidewater area of the Coastal Plain and has some of the most volatile forest vegetation in the Carolina Bays and Pocosins (swamp on a hill). The heavy fuel loads often exceed 20 tons per acre.

River Run Plantation, currently, has approximately 150 homes and more than 600 undeveloped lots. Many of these lots are heavily overgrown and, in many cases, closely border existing homes. The community assessment, by the NC Forest Service, rated us as being a moderate to high risk for wildfire, primarily due to the overgrowth in these undeveloped lots and some common areas. This, along with the fact that we are also surrounded by undeveloped, heavily forested, land and the history of wildfire in Brunswick County caused us to look favorably on the Firewise Communities/USA process. We fit the definition of a wildland/urban interface (WUI) community almost perfectly.

River Run PlantationWe were advised of the Firewise Communities/USA program during a Community Watch program held in the spring of 2003. This led us to the NC Forest Service and their community assessment and excellent follow-up report. The report made some strong suggestions regarding mitigation of the overgrown areas, addition of a secondary emergency exit, installation of dry hydrants and much more.

Since we are a rural community and rely on individual well water systems our ability for fighting fire is limited. We have always had a strong relationship with the Sunset Harbor & Zion Hill Volunteer Fire Department (VFD), located less than 2 miles from our entrance, and turned to it for guidance with our situation. The fire chief felt that we had the choice of helping ourselves before a wildfire or waiting for the inevitability of fire of the type that had occurred several times in our section of Brunswick County. We chose to take the proactive stance.

River Run PlantationAfter electing a Firewise Task Force, from within the community, and including the expert advice from our local fire chief and the NC Forest Service, we worked toward becoming a Firewise Community. We completed a Firewise plan, performed a mitigation project and held our first Firewise Day, in conjunction with a community yard sale. We were very well supported by the Sunset Harbor & Zion Hill VFD and the NC Forest Service. This combined event drew a large number of attendees, which allowed us to spread the word about wildfire potential, home fire prevention, and other items that were useful to the community and our visitors.

Our plans for the coming year include a program to bush hog the undeveloped lots, hold a clean up day in the spring, create an emergency road exit, work on getting a county water system and continue to educate the community about Firewise programs.

River Run PlantationIn the short time that River Run Plantation has been involved with Firewise planning we have gained full acceptance of the program from the Property Owners Association (POA) Board of Directors and the community. In addition, since we are the first community in North Carolina to be recognized as Firewise, we hope to be an example to other small communities and municipalities.

Please visit our community website at www.riverrunplantation.com to learn more about us.