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LeadThe City of Lead, South Dakota was named in the Federal Register (Friday, August 17, 2001 pp 43384-43385, 43419) as the 5th most endangered City within the wildland/urban interface. In September 2002 the Lead Fire Department received a grant from the Bureau of Land Management to begin a full-scale mitigation program. Since that time, Firewise Lead has been dedicated to its mission statement, "Providing the residents of Lead a safer place to live within the wildland urban interface area (a natural fire ecosystem) through public education, prevention and fuels mitigation."

LeadLead is nestled within the beautiful tall pines of the Bureau of Land Management's Exemption Area bordered by the Black Hills National Forest. It is home to approximately 3,000 full time residents. In addition, several thousand vacationers visit the city annually.

The tall pines that abound in the Black Hills produce severe wildfire hazards. In June 2002, Lead experienced the Grizzly Gulch Fire. This fire burned over 10,000 acres, including seven homes and 20 outbuildings. The cities of Lead and Deadwood were evacuated.

Firewise Lead began an intense public outreach program, taking the Firewise practices to local businesses, community service organizations and the public. Media spots provided residents with Firewise Tips through radio and printed media.

LeadPublic talks have been given to several hundred residents since the outreach program's inception, and local businesses have been strong supporters of Firewise. Both Firewise Lead's public outreach program and fuels mitigation team have developed strong relationships with other agencies in education and mitigation including the Bureau of Land Management, South Dakota State Division of Wildfire Suppression, U.S. Forest Service and several local agencies.

The fuels mitigation crew consists of seven men and women, all of whom are certified wildland firefighters. The crew created fire containment zones in fire-prone areas of the city by thinning and removing ground and ladder fuels. Native hardwood trees will be re-introduced into those areas that have been devastated by insects, drought and other weather damage.

Firewise Lead has a strong support from the community. Homeowner adoption of Firewise practices has increased. Annual Public Land Clean-Up Days have been instituted with great success. During these events, the public assists the mitigation crews and then all are treated to a picnic in the park, where Firewise practices are taught.