The Wildfire Mitigation Awards committee has named the winners of the 2023 Wildfire Mitigation Awards. This year’s recipients come from Eagle County, Colorado, where their coordinated efforts have earned them the highest commendation for innovation and leadership in wildfire mitigation. They are:
Eagle Valley Wildland, Eagle County, Colorado
Eagle Valley Wildland (EVW) represents an ambitious partnership between Greater Eagle Fire, Gypsum Fire, Eagle River Fire, and Eagle County to coordinate and collaborate on wildfire mitigation efforts. As a result of this partnership, EVW tripled the number of acres of fuel reduction treatments in the county. EVW worked with community members to reduce wildfire risk on private land through property assessments and home-hardening projects. Over the past two years, more than 100 individual property owners and 25 HOA’s have implemented risk reduction work. EVW also established a Neighborhood Ambassador Program to promote community wildfire adaptation at a local level. The program now has 15 Neighborhood Ambassadors working in a volunteer capacity with EVW staff to implement chipping days, fuel breaks and educational events within their respective communities.
Eric Lovgren, Eagle County, Colorado
As a Fire Mitigation Specialist, Eric Lovgren has expanded Eagle County’s wildfire mitigation efforts from a building enforcement role to an Emergency Management role. Lovgren helped design and launch REALFire, a voluntary home assessment program led by realtors and the Community Wildfire Planning Center. Lovgren not only conducted 423 private property assessments, but also trained other assessors to broaden the scope of the program. His dedication has motivated residents and property managers who may have previously known nothing about wildfire mitigation, to take, and even lead, wildfire mitigation projects. Lovgren’s work has had statewide influence through Fire Adapted Colorado, of which he is a founding board member and current chairperson, and he continues to innovate and inspire others to envision even better systems and programs for wildfire mitigation.
The Wildfire Mitigation Awards program was established in 2014 by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the USDA Forest Service to help demonstrate the tremendous societal value wildfire mitigation efforts provide.
“NFPA is pleased to be part of this important annual initiative to recognize and reward the individuals and groups who are working to reduce wildfire risk around their homes and in their communities,” said NFPA Wildfire Division Director Michele Steinberg. “Their commitment to safety is an inspiration to all. NFPA congratulates this year’s winners and thanks them for their efforts.”
“State forestry agencies know firsthand that wildfire mitigation is a year-round endeavor that requires collaboration across multiple partners,” said NASF President and Nevada State Forester Kacey KC. “This year’s winners have ensured the safety of thousands through their innovative wildfire mitigation efforts. We congratulate them for receiving this honor and thank them for their tireless dedication.”
“Due to climate change, more fire departments are responding to an increasing number of wildland-urban interface and suburban conflagration fires,” said IAFC President and Board Chair Chief Donna Black. “I wish to send congratulations to both Eagle Valley Wildland and Fire Mitigation Specialist Eric Lovgren on their well-deserved recognition. As the fire service continues to evolve its approach to wildfire-related incidents, both EVW and Lovgren are leading the way by forging new partnerships in government and the community at-large to help mitigate future disasters.”
“Congratulations to this year’s recipients,” said Jerry Perez, Fire and Aviation Director for the USDA Forest Service. “It’s an honor for us to help recognize such outstanding work in the field of wildfire mitigation, which is a critical part of our wildfire crisis strategy. The work of mitigation specialists often goes unnoticed but can make a substantial difference to communities at risk of wildfires.”
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