Arborists Can Help Their Communities Prepare for Wildfires

By Michael S. Beaudoin 
Community Forestry Program Manager 

Wildfire in forest.

Before returning to Idaho to serve as the UCF program manager, I managed wildfire mitigation programs throughout California and Nevada. This background in wildland fire often informs how I provide technical assistance to our communities. The 2021 fire season in Idaho is shaping up to be a problematic one for our high-risk communities.

The relatively dry winter throughout the state resulted in record-low moisture levels in our forests and rangelands. Many of our communities are intermixed with this dry wildland and the urban canopy often abuts or is mixed with the wildland-urban interface (WUI).

The recent warmer weather is not helping matters either. The National Inter-Agency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise predicts that our summer months will most likely be warmer and drier than typical for Idaho. More info on NIFC’s weather predictive services can be found here.

Although the 2021 fire season predictions look bleak, Arborists have many tools at their disposal to help their communities prepare for wildfires. Examining your city’s open space, golf courses, or multi-use trails for flammable untreated vegetation is a good place to start. 90% of fires start due to human-caused ignitions and municipal open space areas are often prime ignition sources. Inviting wildfire mitigation specialists to review your community forestry plan and identify priority treatment projects will help your community better prepare for potential ignitions.

photo of a home and defensible space
Mature trees that were planted within 30 feet of your home can be pruned to separate the available fuel from your home.

Private arboriculture companies can also help prepare their communities for wildfire by assisting their clients with home-hardening services. Proper maintenance and irrigation of landscape trees are shrubs is crucial piece of wildfire mitigation. No tree or ornamental plant is completely fire-resistant especially when neglected by the home-owner. Some services our private contractors can provide include:

  • Crown pruning tree branches at least 30 feet away from the home.
  • Remove tree species that are highly flammable like Arborvitae.
  • Remove leaf litter or debris from the roof and gutters of the client’s home.
  • Install home hardening features such as ember-resistant vents

The University of Idaho and several other state extension services provide a lot of information on preparing your tree canopy for wildfires. Some helpful resources include:

Your home and the trees that surround it are most likely the biggest financial investment of your lifetime. Have you prepared to protect those investments? If you have questions regarding how Arborists can help their communities prepare better for wildfires assistance, please reach out to us at