The Community Mitigation Assistance Team model is a national pilot program to assist communities close to wildfires to take action to become more fire adapted. Several Colorado-based practitioners were called out to Washington in August as part of a Community Mitigation Assistance Team. Read more about these teams and highlights from this summer in the Community Mitigation Assistance Team National Pilot Highlights – August 2015 Report. The Executive Summary from the report follows:
Scores of communities nationwide experience the impacts of wildfire every year; thousands of residents evacuate; infrastructure is threatened; many communities, especially those dependent on tourism or natural resources, are economically devastated; and wildfire response costs billions.
But the wildfire itself presents a narrow window of opportunity to support, enhance, and enable community mitigation education and fire adapted communities actions. That window of opportunity, while smoke is in the air, is a priceless teachable moment when community members experience the immediate importance of mitigation and are ready, willing, and able to take action on both an individual and community level.
Existing jurisdictions (the incident management team and Forest) cannot effectively address just-in-time mitigation assistance because wildfire response is the priority. Liaison officers, structure protection groups, and public information officers, similarly, are not available or equipped to work collaboratively with local communities to enable mitigation actions, increase local sustainable capacity, and build relationships.
A pilot community mitigation assistance team (C-MAT) deployed in August 2015 to take advantage of the teachable moment in targeted communities impacted by the Chelan Complex. The 7-person team worked with the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, the Southwest Area Incident Management Team, and local partners, including the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition, to target high risk communities with heightened need and interest in wildfire mitigation. The team focused on mitigation education and building local capacity while simultaneously providing benefits to the IMT and Forest through just-in-time mitigation support.