BLM County Assistance work pays dividends in South Dakota

Story by Lawrence County Community Assistance Program

Lawrence County in South Dakota is updating its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) with funding from the BLM through the Community Assistance Program.

Lawrence County Community Assistance program in the field
A fuels reduction project in Lawrence County, South
Dakota, was made possible through the partnership of
multiple players including the BLM, State of South Dakota,
city and county agencies, and private landowners.  Photo
courtesy of Rob Mattox from Lawrence County Firewise

Since Lawrence County’s CWPP was last updated in 2012, there has been growth in new and existing subdivisions. Updating the plan will include all these new values in the planning process.

Fuel loading in the county has changed in recent years due to significant mountain pine beetle infestation and open areas from tree mortality have increased grass production. Also, the ponderosa pine and white spruce regeneration, which is prolific due to wet conditions in recent years, is compounding hazardous fuels within the county. All these things will be considered during the CWPP update.

Past updates during the CWPP planning process have included a comprehensive map book of the entire county. This map book has topographic and aerial imagery maps on opposing pages with identical extents which for fire managers. In addition, it includes lat/long coordinates, structure locations, county roads, driveways, forest roads, motorized and non-motorized trails along with other recreation trails. Ownership, utility lines, water features and mapped water sources suitable for fire suppression activities are also depicted, as well as municipality and local fire department boundaries.  

Lawrence County Community Assistance Program
Fire staff from multiple agencies attend a field briefing. 
Photo courtesy of Travis Lipp.

All the transportation routes (county, BLM and USFS) are indexed so they can be located by local naming convention. Additional products include smart device maps and large format wall maps for the fire departments that depict the county on one and the individual fire department districts on another.

Pertinent structure assessment data is also included on all map products for the county. Through this CWPP update planning process, associated mapping products will be updated to provide local fire personnel with up-to-date information for use during emergency response. All products developed are shared with local, state and federal resources.

Lawrence County would like to thank the BLM for its continued support and funding for these important Community Assistance programs. Lawrence County has been fortunate to be the recipient of funding from the BLM Community Assistance program for many years which has allowed the county to complete significant project planning and work (fuels treatments) on the ground.  Interagency cooperation between local, state and federal agencies helps us all be more efficient with the limited resources available within the county.

“The Community Assistance program provided by the BLM has allowed Lawrence County to make excellent progress in implementing the fire adapted community concepts,” said Rob Mattox, Lawrence County Wildland Urban Interface Specialist.