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Forest Ridge

With steep canyon slopes lined with towering ponderosa pine trees and various firs, the Forest Ridge community in Washington State easily serves as a classic example of the natural beauty found throughout western America. Located about ten miles southwest of Wenatchee, WA, the Forest Ridge expanse, however, like many surrounding regions in the state, lives under the constant threat of wildfire due to its densely wooded terrain.

In light of this threat, Forest Ridge became a recognized Firewise community in 2010, and has since renewed its recognition status every year. By renewing their status in 2013, Forest Ridge was automatically entered in the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program Challenge (Firewise Challenge). Their continued passion for keeping their community safe from the dangers of wildfire and their hard work helped contribute to Forest Ridge becoming a winner in the Firewise Challenge, joining the ranks of four other U.S. communities that also earned that distinction. ...

In 2008, thanks to a National Fire Plan Grant given by the Cascadia Conservation District and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Chelan County Fire District 1, work began with clearing out forest fuels in a subdivision of Forest Ridge that spanned 110 building lots averaging ¾ acre to 1 ½ acre in size. The success of this effort inspired residents in the area to take similar measures on their own properties. In spring 2010, community members finally met for the first time to discuss the possibility of becoming organized as a Firewise community, eventually banding together to create the Forest Ridge Wildfire Coalition (FRWC). Members of the FRWC are committed to preventing a wildfire disaster in the area, voluntarily making annual contributions to the organization so as to pay for newsletters, special announcement publications, mailings, and chipper rentals.

Since being formally recognized as a Firewise community in 2010, Forest Ridge has had a number of successful Firewise endeavors, ensuring the safety of the residents in the area and the preservation of the natural land surrounding them. Their Firewise Day events over the past few years have been incredibly effective, with community members hosting them in a widely traveled intersection so as to spread the word of the event and what it has to offer. During their Firewise Day event, Fire District 1 showcases various pieces of equipment related to being Firewise, fire safety publications are displayed, various fire professionals are available for questions, and even guest speakers discuss fire prevention issues related to the Forest Ridge area. The event concludes with a pot-luck lunch.

“We strive to make the event ‘social heavy’ and ‘program light’, as this is a special time for neighbors to get to know one another, which we believe is an important component of wildfire safety,” says Jerry Holm, Board President of the FRWC. “It also helps to bring our community closer together.” As a winner for the Challenge, Forest Ridge 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. “The money will be added to existing funds for the ‘good of the community,” says Holm. “The wildfire fuel reduction work already done in the last few years needs to be continued and improved upon, as vegetation is always growing. The Board is already taking proactive steps to address these issues, but the grand prize winnings will certainly aid in furthering those efforts.”