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StoryStory, Wyoming, an unincorporated community of about 900 residents, lies in the foothills of the eastern slope of the Bighorn Mountains in the north central part of the state. Its beautiful topography is dominated by Ponderosa pines but includes other conifers, aspen and other deciduous trees, and native grasses and brush. People started settling Story in 1894. A major fire was recorded there in 1868 and the area remains very vulnerable to wildfire. Story has seen several forest fires within a five-mile radius west of the town in the Bighorn National Forest.

StoryFor this reason, in cooperation with the Wyoming State Forestry Division (WSFD) and the USDA-Forest Service, the Story Fire District arranged to have a wildfire assessment done in 2000. The assessment was paid for with a grant from the Wildland/Urban Interface Program National Fire Plan administered by the WSFD and completed in November 2001 by Land Stewardship Associates. Story formed a Steering Committee early in 2002 and started implementing the Story Wildfire Assessment & Mitigation Plan (SWAMP). This plan addressed seven key issues and suggested strategies and tactics to deal with each issue. A brief summary of each of the recommendations follows:

  1. Expand the community volunteer program to provide additional resources to strengthen the Story Fire District and to provide necessary support for the Story Volunteer Fire Department.
  2. Strengthen ability of the Story Fire District to implement the Story Wildfire Assessment & Mitigation Plan.
  3. Develop a Community effort to implement effective neighborhood defensibility standards.
  4. Upgrade the community roads and bridges to safely accommodate fire suppression equipment.
  5. Clear brush and trees to provide safe clearance between vegetation and power lines.
  6. Develop a system of strategic fuel breaks and fuel hazard reduction Improvements.
  7. Develop pre-planned tactical responses for wildland fire within or adjacent to the community of Story.

StoryA SWAMP coordinator was hired to implement the plan. Each issue is being addressed and is at varying stages of implementation. In 2003 the steering committee was converted to a Firewise Board composed of representation from the Story Fire District, the Story Volunteer Fire Department, the Story Lions Club, the Story Women's Club, the Story Garden Club and the Story Advisory Group to the Sheridan County Zoning and Planning Commission. During the summer of 2002, the Board held three defensible space workshops on three separate days in different parts of the community. About 25 people attended each workshop. The Board also delivered defensible space presentations at a Lion's club meeting and a Women's Club meeting that year. Several bulk mailings to Story residents included Firewise and defensible space education material. The Story Volunteer Fire Department newsletter, 'The Siren', is distributed several times a year and carries the Firewise message along with information on other fire department activities. The Firewise message is getting out. In addition to those residents who have always had a Firewise attitude, increasing numbers are adopting Firewise standards for their homes and properties.

StoryFor years a fuel break on the west side of Story, separating the town from the Bighorn National Forest, has been talked about. In 2002 a plan to build this fuel break, from North Piney Creek to South Piney Creek---about two miles---started developing. A shaded fuel break design was approved that was 300-400 feet wide, mostly on private property and a state fish hatchery. The Ponderosas were to be thinned to 20-50 foot spacing; all ladder fuels was to be removed. In 2003 the construction of the fuel break began and by August 2003 was about one-third completed. Construction is planned through the autumn and possibly into the spring of 2004. Other landowners adjacent to the fuel break are, or will be, doing additional thinning for overall forest health and disease prevention. Adjacent to this area the USDA-Forest Service is thinning on the public land they administer (See Story Fuels Project). The fuel break system will provide Story with better protection in the event a wildfire approaches from the west. It will also provide a safety zone for firefighters. Besides the fuel break system, other residents who own property from one-half acre to 40 acres or more in size are planning to thin their trees and other vegetation.

See more information about Story.