Understanding How to Protect Your Property in Wildland Urban Interfaces

Part two of a four-part story on Working Together for Effective Wildland Fire Management

Written in cooperation with Tom Zegler, New Mexico State Forestry and Ellen Brown, Gila NF Fire Prevention Specialist


Silver City, NM, May 8, 2019 — As we continue telling the story of wildland fire management, the Gila National Forest wants to highlight our partnership with New Mexico State Forestry and help private land owners understand how to begin to protect their property while living in wildland urban interfaces.  


Creating a fire defense zone is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. “Research tells us that the majority of homes ignite during a wildfire as a result of embers or small flames. There are steps that homeowners can take to reduce the risk, with the most important efforts occurring on and immediately around the home.”  Creating a space around your home “… that is cleared of flammable vegetation and other risk reduction steps are needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire – either from direct flame contact, radiant heat or embers.”  (National Fire Protection Association, NFPA.org). 


New Mexico State Forestry (NMSF) has responsibility for wildfire suppression on all non-federal, non-municipal, non-tribal and non-pueblo lands. In addition, NMSF can help New Mexicans live safely with the threat of wildland fire. NMSF liaisons work with communities in their area to develop wildland fire prevention and preparedness plans –NMSF can work with private land owners to assist in creating a fire defense zones that make it easier to prevent fire from encroaching on your home.

NMSF, in cooperation with the Grant County Soil and Water Conservation District, can work with private land owners to secure cost sharing agreements via Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) grants. These can help with thinning in private woodlands and forests, as well as around your property. More information on this can be found by contacting Rebecca Benavidez at Grant County Soil and Water Conservation District (575-388-1569) or Tom Zegler, NMSF Special Projects Forester (575-388-2201). Part of determining eligibility for cost-sharing agreements will include site visits, determine project size and tree density, to evaluate the criteria for meeting cost share

The Gila National Forest offers a free assessment to home owners within Grant, Catron or Sierra County to help visualize possible ignition points and incorporates suggestions for creating a survivable space. More information on this free assessment can be found by calling Ellen Brown, at the Gila National Forest at 575-388-8262. 

If you are interested in learning more about FIREWISE and whether your area is involved in being a FIREWISE community and how this can help you with wildfire risk reduction you can also contact your local county Emergency Manager for further information.

For information on the Gila National Forest, check out our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/gila or join the conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GilaNForest/ or follow us on Twitter @GilaNForest.