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Wenatchee gets help to reduce wildfire risk, costs.

Wenatchee has been selected as one of three communities across the nation that applied to receive technical assistance under a new program that helps reduce wildfire risk and costs.

As towns and cities across the country are experiencing the devastating impacts from wildfire, the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) program offers support at the local level. Through CPAW, Wenatchee will collaborate with a team of consultants, including land use planners, foresters and risk mapping experts to develop better planning strategies to mitigate community impacts from wildfire. A total of five communities are now engaged in CPAW--work in two communities is underway and three new communities, including Wenatchee, will begin work later this fall.

CPAW is a partnership between Wildfire Planning International and Headwaters Economics, two organizations dedicated to working with communities to develop and implement local planning measures to reduce wildfire risk. In 2014, Wildfire Planning International and Headwaters Economics launched a similar pilot program in Summit County, Colorado. Over the course of one year, consultants worked with Summit County leadership and staff to identify opportunities to integrate wildfire risk reduction strategies into land use planning practices. The pilot program resulted in county staff incorporating many recommendations into Summit County plans and initiatives.

"We believe the city of Wenatchee is in an excellent position to benefit from CPAW due to the community's recent wildfires, future development pressures, anticipated planning updates and strong leadership support for this opportunity," said Molly Mowery, president of Wildfire Planning International. "Too often communities have an interest in reducing wildfire risk through land use planning mechanisms but may lack the capacity or expertise."

CPAW provides assistance to work toward that outcome.

"Good land use planning is not about telling people where not to build," said Headwaters Economics Executive Director Ray Rasker. 'It's about making safer, smarter community development decisions to avoid future wildfire disasters. Through more examples like Summit County and Wenatchee, we can show other communities what successful land use planning for wildfire looks like in practice."

CPAW is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service and private foundations.

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Title Annotation:The Buzz: Newsworthy and notable events
Publication:Wenatchee Business Journal
Date:Nov 1, 2015
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