Basin Rec official wins national award for fire mitigation work
Summit Park fuel reduction project draws recognition
Jessica Kirby, the Snyderville Basin Recreation District open space management supervisor, has received national recognition for her work, becoming one of three people to receive a 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Award.
A prepared statement from the National Association of State Foresters announcing the distinction called it the highest commendation for innovation and leadership in wildfire mitigation.
“Jessica has transformed the landscape in Summit County, improving an emergency access route between three communities, implementing a 50-acre fuel break, treating 200 acres of mixed vegetation, and leading community outreach efforts that challenge the ‘it won’t happen here’ attitude,” the statement said.
The group recognized Kirby’s work overseeing a multi-year forest health and fuels reduction project in the Summit Park area, according to a Basin Rec press release.
“It is a great honor to have received such a high level of recognition,” Kirby wrote in an email to The Park Record.
Basin Rec oversees 2,300 acres of land in Summit County and officials have discussed the challenge of maintaining it to county standards for fire mitigation and invasive plant species management.
Last year, Basin Rec launched what it called a forest health and fuels reduction project in Summit Park, thinning the undergrowth and trying to reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire burning through the area.
Basin Rec hired contractors to burn hundreds of “slash piles” this winter, leftovers from the forest thinning project in Summit Park. The work was funded in part with a $150,000 state grant.
This summer, Basin Rec brought goats into the Toll Canyon area to eat through the underbrush and help clear an emergency egress area.
The National Association of State Foresters congratulated the award winners, identifying their work as having “tremendous societal value.”
“In their own ways, this year’s winners have ensured the safety of thousands through their wildfire mitigation efforts,” said Joe Fox, the organization’s president and the Arkansas state forester. “We congratulate them for receiving this honor and thank them for their dedication to this critically important work.”
Mike Quinones, a longtime Summit Park resident who has led fire prevention efforts there, lauded Kirby’s contributions to the area’s fire safety.
“I’ve seen all the hard work she put in, the passion she has for it,” Quinones said. “She has set the bar for other land managers in the wildland urban interface. This is exactly what the county and the state is looking for in leadership.”
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