The Transylvania Times -

Connestee Falls Designated As A Firewise Community


Last updated 10/14/2019 at 2:55pm

In front of the Connestee Falls sign are Jim Whitmore, Connestee Falls general manager; Jessica Hocz, Mountain Valleys RC&D; James McJunkin, assistant Transylvania County ranger; Jim Thompson and Brent Ziegler, Connestee Falls Firewise Committee; Spencer Brown, Connestee Falls maintenance director; and Ken McJunkin, Connestee Fire Rescue. (Courtesy photo)

On Oct. 3, Justin McQuery of the N.C. Forest Service presented Jim Whitmore, general manager of the Connestee Falls Property Owners Association, with signs and a plaque designating it as a Firewise participating community.

The Firewise USA program, under the auspices of the National Fire Prevention Association, assists homeowners in reducing the impact of wildfires. Connestee Falls joins more than 1,400 sites nationwide. It is one of 34 sites in North Carolina, including Waterford Place and Pisgah Forest Farms in Transylvania County.

After the 2016 Pinnacle Mountain wildfire came within three miles of the 3,900 acre development south of Brevard and the tragic wildfire burned through Gatlinburg, Tenn., the Association decided to start a Firewise program. To achieve recognition, Connestee Falls worked with the Firewise USA national office in Colorado, the N.C. Forest Service Western Region and Transylvania County Rangers' offices, the Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation and Development Council and Connestee Fire Rescue to complete a number of steps over the past two and a half years.

These steps included conducting a Forest Service assessment of potential wildfire impacts, developing an action plan, educating residents and sponsoring volunteer activities that reduce wildfire risks while preserving the natural environment. These efforts will continue into the future to enable Connestee Falls to renew its Firewise recognition annually.

A principal activity of Firewise is creating "Defensible Space" by clearing combustible materials up to thirty feet from structures. Others are evacuation planning, firefighting access to remote areas of the community, taking a home inventory and making a "Go Kit" of essential items to take in case of evacuation.


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