The intent of the Appalachian RC&D Coalition is to expand the success of the Fire Adapted Communities concept up the Appalachian Mountain Chain from Georgia to Virginia to help reduce the risk of wildfire in communities in the Wildland Urban Interface most of which border National forests. The Appalachian RC&D Coalition is made up of 6 RC&D Councils in Georgia (1), North Carolina (4), and Virginia (1) along the Appalachian Chain. The FAC Appalachian Coalition will draw from learning processes that have been developed by the Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D council (CCRCD) in North Georgia since 2013 that has transformed Towns County in North Georgia into a Fire Adapted Community by using the FAC Fire Learning Network methods where people educate their neighbors, family, and friends as to Fire Adapted principles and practices. The Georgia FAC hub presently has three additional communities in development stages. The newly created Appalachian RC&D Coalition will serve as the mechanism to spread the FAC concept to communities at risk from wildfires in this area.
RC&Ds are uniquely positioned to administer programs such as FAC since they are non-governmental organizations that are not bound by the usual red tape with most governmental programs. RC&Ds are made up of neighbors helping neighbors and communities helping communities (learning network) to improve the places where they live and work. RC&D’s have shown grassroots success for many years on a variety of issues, such as; soil and erosion 319h projects, farm energy audits, Firewise programs, soil health programs, organic farming programs, seasonal high tunnel projects, wildfire hazard assessment programs, wildfire mitigation projects, small farm conferences, no-till agriculture projects, wildlife enhancement programs and many other varied projects that help the people in the places where they live. Utilizing their strong community connections across their county footprints, RC&D Councils can put more of the funding on the ground where it can be used by having minimal layers of oversight and overhead. Working in concert with the Forest Service to match up priorities on nearby federal land, these communities can leverage actions and build joint priorities to reduce risk and enhance community and homeowner responsibility. Wildfire education is much less expensive than wildfire suppression or in the words of one of our mentors, “it’s much cheaper to prevent fires than to put them out!”
The goal of wildfire education is to demonstrate to homeowners the risks where they live, what they can do to reduce these risks, and how a simple action by one them or their neighbors can lead to a catastrophe with loss of their property and the forests nearby.