1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Hemlock Farms, Pennsylvania

Located on the glaciated Pocono Plateau on top of a divide between two tributaries of the Delaware River, the Hemlock Farms community in Pennsylvania is no stranger to living alongside the  wilderness. Of course, being surrounded by nature has both its perks and its drawbacks, especially when it comes to  wildlife and the enduring danger of wildfires.

Hemlock Farms’ journey towards becoming a recognized Firewise community began when the neighborhood had to address an overdeveloped deer population. Due to their rising numbers, the forests of Hemlock Farms were being severely damaged by the deer feasting on the vegetation growing underneath the tree canopy. The Hemlock Farms Community Association (HFCA), along with other community members, dedicated themselves to providing educational programs so as to inform management and community leaders about the potential damage that can be caused from an overabundant deer population and the possible solutions to the problem. Through a collective effort, the conflict with the deer was eventually resolved, allowing for the destroyed vegetation to return to its original richness. However, the regrowth of vegetation meant an increased risk for wildfire. Hemlock Farms eventually became Firewise as a way to better mitigate the risks to the community should a wildfire threaten lives and property. With the announcement of the Firewise Challenge, Hemlock Farms saw their participation as “a way to reinvigorate the discussion and involvement of members and management to practice Firewise prevention and preparedness,” according to Marian Keegan, Director of Community Conservation in Hemlock Farms.

Having been a recognized Firewise community since 2006, Hemlock Farms is no stranger to the mitigation and advocacy efforts carried out by other Firewise communities across the country. For their Firewise Day, the community joined forces with the Hemlock Farms Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, as well as extending invitations to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and the famous wildfire prevention icon Smokey Bear. While children got a chance to check out the fire trucks and ambulances on site for the event, homeowners learned about the local Firewise efforts taking place and how they can get involved.  

As a winner for the Challenge, Hemlock Farms has earned $5,000 to put towards future Firewise efforts thanks to the generous support of State Farm, NFPA’s partner in the Firewise Challenge. With the prize money, the Hemlock Farms community hopes to implement a new pilot program called, “Chipper Days,” which would reduce wildfire fuel loads by requiring contractors to chip debris collected by community members, and use them in a sustainable way. Hemlock Farms also plans on celebrating their Firewise Challenge victory by hosting a massive event with representatives from State Farm, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, members of the HFCA Board of Directors, and members from the Firewise Board, among others. There will be activities for both adults and children alike. Ultimately, the Hemlock Farms community is proud to stand as one of the five winners of the Challenge, expertly using the tools provided through the Firewise program. “I am very glad that resources are available through the Firewise program to help homeowners who live in the wildland/urban interface  plan for wildland fire preparedness and prevention. Hemlock Farms is a community that has distinguished themselves by recognizing and taking advantage of the services and materials available through the Firewise program,” says Keegan.