How to Treat Landscape to Prevent Wildfire

Friday, June 25 2010

MOSCOW, Idaho – Landowners in Idaho should do more than rely on a wet, cool spring and early summer to stave off wildfire. According to Yvonne Barkley, University of Idaho associate extension forester, they should take steps now to prepare landscapes surrounding homes and other structures.

Despite the above normal amounts of precipitation this spring, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is forecasting an above normal potential for wildfire in late summer and early fall.

"Fire and land management agencies cannot help prevent wildfire disasters without homeowner participation," said Barkley. "If you live in the wildland/urban interface, recognize that your home and immediate surroundings belongs to you. This means that you, as the homeowner, have the primary responsibility for reducing your home’s vulnerability. Surrounding yourself with a lush, beautiful, and well-maintained landscape is your best defense against losses from wildfires."

Starting at the house or structure, and concentrating efforts in a 30-foot radius, Barkley suggests these simple steps to protect landscape against wildfire:

• Remove flammable debris away from the home by pruning, raking, mowing and removing.

• Maintain irrigation systems, and keep lawns and plant materials well watered and trimmed.

• Prune dead branches out of trees and remove lower branches to a height of six to 15 feet.

• Create two ways to access the property – both for fire equipment access and escape routes.

• Mark roads and property entrances clearly with non-flammable signs.

More in-depth information is available on two new websites:
• eXtension Living With Fire:
• Idaho Firewise:

In addition, the complete guide, "Protecting and Landscaping Homes in the Wildland/Urban Interface," is available from the University of Idaho. It provides insight to understanding wildfire and how homes are destroyed, as well as tips to minimize home ignition potential. The publication costs $4 and is available by contacting Agricultural Publications, University of Idaho, P.O. Box 442240, Moscow, Idaho, 83844-2240, (208) 885-7982 or by e-mailing
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit