Government and non-government organizations from across the state today, announced a contest that will launch the collaborative 2017 Wildfire Lookout! campaign to raise awareness about the threat of wildfire to Hawaii’s natural resources and to private and public property. It is the season when wildfires begin ramping up across the country, and Hawaii is no exception. The Wildfire Lookout! contest invites people to take steps to protect Hawaii’s homes, families, and natural resources from the threat of wildfire by taking preventative action on May 6, 2017 and throughout the month of May. May 6 is Community Wildfire Preparedness Day across Hawaii and the US.
The Wildfire Lookout! contest encourages residents in Hawaii to take action in one of the following categories:
1) Clean up your yard or practice a family emergency plan;
2) Participate in a local event organized as part of the Wildfire Lookout! effort;
3) Work with your neighbors to do a community wildfire hazard reduction project.
Anyone who takes actions toward wildfire preparedness in Hawaii is invited to submit stories and photos via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #WildfireReadyHI or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org as part of the statewide contest. Local businesses are sponsoring the Wildfire Lookout! campaign by providing prizes to contest winners. Prizes will be awarded in each of the above categories.
Detailed information regarding practices for fire-safe landscaping and home maintenance are available as part of the Wildfire Lookout! campaign. A current list of local events and opportunities to join is also available. Both can be found at hawaiiwildfire.org.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is the lead agency charged with wildfire prevention and suppression on public lands across the state. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We hope this campaign and contest will educate and inform everyone living in and visiting Hawaii about the threat of wildfires. While fires here in Hawaii burn smaller acreages than in much larger western states, the percentage of forest land we lose each year to wildfire, based on Hawaii’s actual land mass, is equal to states like California.”
“Proactive, preventative action is safer and far more effective than doing nothing and relying on suppression, or even worse, trying to recover from the broader, less publicized impacts of wildfire. Many people are surprised to learn about the long-lasting and serious impacts fire has on Hawaii’s coral reefs, water quality, municipal infrastructure, and more,” says Elizabeth Pickett, Executive Director of Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. “It all starts with personal action, and when everyone does their part, that adds up to a safer and healthier Hawaii.”
This is exactly the type of activity we hope to encourage during the “Wildfire Lookout!” campaign and May contest. Wildfire Lookout!, is a continuing effort to keep people across the state informed of current fire and drought conditions and provide tips on protecting homes and families from wildfire.
University of Hawaii, Cooperative Extension Wildland Fire Specialist, Dr. Clay Trauernicht adds, “It is a win-win for everyone to take part in hazard reduction activities. Entering the Wildfire Lookout! contest provides a fun and worthwhile incentive to get started on activities we’ve all been meaning to do anyway around our homes and communities. These types of preventative actions are actually quite simple to implement, and make a huge difference in the health and safety of our families, lands, and waters.”