Hylton Haynes and I now on day four in our visit to the last frontier state leaving Homer Alaska and traveling up the Kenai Peninsula East about 50 miles to the Soldotna area to visit with one of the two Firewise® Communities in Alaska. The Cohoe Firewise Communities/USA® site is in the middle of a spruce forest with beetle killed trees, high grass and 100 homes intermixed on land parcels that range from one to 80 acres. The number of fire incidents is relatively low in this area when compared to dryer areas in the “Lower 48”, however the potential for large fires is rather great with some historical fires being greater than 60,000 acres. Our visit to this very rural site made it evident that this is a WUI area and for years the Cohoe Community have taken action on the ground to reduce their risk from wildfire.
Cutting the tall grass making fuel breaks, pruning the lower hanging branches of trees, moving wood piles 30 feet away from the home, installing noncombustible fencing and using fire resistive roofing has reduced their wildfire risk exposure. These are all common mitigation actions we see in many Firewise Communities, so what intrigued me about this Firewise Community?
It was, what they do for their annual Firewise day. Every year the Cohoe Firewise Community meets at the area Department of Transportation gravel pit which serves as the Cohoe Firewise Community debris disposal site. This recognized Firewise Communities/USA site hosts an innovative Halloween program for their children called 'Trunk-or-Treat'. No, not 'Trick-or-Treat', but 'Trunk-or-Treat', like the trunk of your car! As it was explained to me, the Cohoe Community is in a remote part of the state which is a rural area where children do not have the opportunity to walk from home to home trick-or-treating like you do in the city. Instead, the parents drive their children to the Firewise debris collection site in Halloween decorated cars where children can meet with other goblins to go from vehicle to vehicle to get their treats from the trunks of cars. But that is not all that is being passed around at this meeting place. The Cohoe Firewise Community sparkplugs hand out Firewise educational materials to the adults.
This event is coming up soon and the Cohoe “Trunk-or-Treat” program fulfills the Firewise Day which is all that is left to fulfill the Firewise renewal paperwork for Cohoe this year. Just another innovative way to motivate residents to get involved with the Firewise Communities/USA Program!