There are more than 6,000 lakes and ponds in Maine that collectively have over 20,000 year-round and seasonal homes on their shores. These homes range from traditional seasonal “camps” to multimillion dollar year-round residences. All of these homes are located in the wildlandurban interface. Forest Rangers have assessed the fire risk in a representative sample of lake association communities in Maine. They have described the fire risk in these communities as “moderate”, “high”, and, in some cases, “extreme”. All of these communities share two characteristics: a lack of defensible space around homes and inadequate access roads. There are a number of laws—Shoreland Zoning Act, Erosion and Sedimentation Control Law, Natural Resources Protection Act, local zoning laws, and lake association bylaws—that restrict what lakeside homeowners can do to manage their vegetation. Homeowners also frequently receive inconsistent advice from State and local agencies. As a result, many homeowners frequently choose to do nothing, which puts their homes at increased risk from wildfire. Some recent recommendations from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection encouraged homeowners to increase vegetation around their homes, reduce the size of their lawns, and not mow the lawn or rake leaves and pine needles from their yard. Although these recommendations were made to prevent runoff from degrading water quality, they can also cause a home to be at higher risk from wildland fire.
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