The goal of our Wildfire Risk Reduction Program is to identify land management strategies that will reduce “fuel loads” of highly flammable vegetation on Foundation properties, especially where they occur in close proximity to homes, while also complementing existing ecological management objectives.
Many of Nantucket’s unique natural communities contain plant species whose leaves contain high levels of oil and resin capable of producing extreme fire behavior when ignited.
Additionally, these habitats are fire and disturbance dependent and contain many rare and endangered species that require ecologically-appropriate land management to survive.
Prior to initiating on-the-ground management work associated with this program, our Science and Stewardship staff developed detailed Wildland Fire Management Plans for several of the Foundation’s high risk properties, including Head of the Plains, the Middle Moors and South Pastures (the area between Nantucket Airport and Tom Nevers along the south shore of the island).
These plans have been reviewed and approved by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. They identify priority sites for conducting land management techniques aimed at reducing fire danger, including brushcutting firebreaks and undertaking other mechanical vegetation removal strategies based on public safety threats and ecological management needs.
We launched a program in the summer of 2012 to raise funds for implementing the management recommended in this plan. Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, this program has been very successful and we have been able to make excellent progress in cutting firebreaks at multiple sites. This multi-year effort is still underway and there will be ongoing maintenance in perpetuity. If you would like to make a donation to this important program, click here.
An additional key component of this effort is to increase public awareness of wildfire danger on the island and educate local neighborhood groups about steps that individual homeowners can take to reduce their vulnerability to property damage by wildfire. Members of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and staff have visited various neighborhood associations and community groups to help educate year-round and seasonal residents about the risk of wildfire on Nantucket.