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On our front page this week

  • Small number of cabins lowers concerns for wildland fires


By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

One concern about wildland fires Juab County does not have is the destruction of summer cabins.

"It is a small issue in Juab County because we have, probably, no more than 20 summer cabins in all the county," said Robert Steele, county commissioner.

Some county neighbors, like Sanpete, had a great many and it was a concern for them, he said.

An e-mail had been received by Mike Seely, county administrator, asking for commissioners to let the state know what the concerns were about dealing with wildfires as far as valuable real estate was concerned.

"It is important that we respond," said Steele, "but summer cabins are a small concern here in comparison with some of the other counties in the state."

Other types of property, such as ranch and range lands, were of grave concern and could suffer great loss by wildfire.

On May 10, 2005, a Governor's Executive Order was, issued, entitled Wildland Fire Management, declaring a state of emergency because of fire danger in the state of Utah.

It was issued because "the danger from wildland fires is extremely high throughout the State of Utah."

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Governor declared a "State of Emergency exists statewide due to the threat to public safety, property, natural resources and the environment for thirty days, effective as of May 10, 2005, requiring aid, assistance and relief available pursuant to the provisions of state statutes, and the State Emergency Operations Plan, which is hereby activated."

Because of the wet spring, plant growth is high and could pose a fire danger.

In partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands, a Geographic Information System (GIS) has been used to create a wildland fire assessment methodology.

GIS layers include topography, infrastructure, vegetation, climate, sensitive natural values, and fire history.

By using the environmental, human, and topographic information, probability maps of wildland fire occurrence were created. In both cases, high fire danger areas can be overlaid with protection areas (natural or human-made value areas) to identify critical fire danger areas.

"Our fire marshal was at the meeting," said Seely."He obtained the necessary information for us."