Franklin County residents will get the chance this week to review a preliminary plan to keep people safe in case a major wildfire breaks out.
Northwest Management, a natural resource consulting firm based in Moscow, Idaho, was hired to identify areas in Franklin County most susceptible to wildfires, plan how to fight them, educate residents about the dangers of wildfires and help fire districts work together.
The firm will present its findings to residents in Pasco and Connell. The Pasco meeting is scheduled for today at fire station 36 at 7809 Road 36. The Connell meeting is Thursday at the fire station at 605 S. Columbia Ave. Both start at 6 p.m.
"It's mostly a chance for folks to become familiar with the plan," said Brad Tucker, a wildlife biologist with Northwest Management. "People can ask questions of committee members and voice any concerns they might have."
The plan costs around $25,000, with the county putting up $6,400 and the Bureau of Land Management covering the rest, Tucker said. Officials hope to present a first draft to a committee, which will review the plan, in about three weeks.
The committee comprises federal, local fire and county officials, Tucker said.
Northwest Management used fire behavioral models, conducted field assessments and spoke with fire officials to develop the plan.
"We really identify areas within the county that are more at risk for wildfires and come up with projects to mitigate the risk," Tucker said. "The idea is to try and get everybody on the same page with what they have resource-wise."
Benton County has had a wildfire protection plan for a number of years and Franklin County just now found the funds to partner with BLM to develop a plan, said Les Litzenberger, chief of Franklin Fire District 3.
The plan should keep everyone safer should a wildfire start, Litzenberger said.
"This is a scientific-based analysis of the issues, the fuel types, the fire history and the threats to the people in Franklin County," he said. "It's definitely more scientific than me just standing up there. This gives us a document that proves I know what I am talking about."
-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; email@example.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson