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Leavenworth Fuels Reduction Project Receives National Recognition

Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery - 2004

Four U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees were recognized nationally in 2004 for working with the community of Leavenworth, Washington, on a hazardous fuels reduction project.

Pam Ensley, the Service's regional fire management coordinator presented a National Fire Plan award to Julie Collins, project leader, Corky Broaddus, information and education specialist, Rocky McCleary, maintenance worker, all at Leavenworth hatchery. Dennis Seidman, the wildland urban interface field coordinator for the Pacific Region Fire Program also received an award.

In 2003, employees from the Leavenworth hatchery thinned 40 acres of overgrown, dense forest on the hatchery grounds and chipped the small trees and brush. This treatment reduced the risk of a wildfire burning both the hatchery facilities and the nearby community of Leavenworth, which have been threatened by two large wildfires in the past decade. The most recent, the Icicle Creek Fire in 2001, burned 8,500 acres of forest.

At first some local residents were skeptical of the project, concerned that the hatchery staff intended to clearcut the land. When they found out that the project involved thinning out the tangled thicket of trees and brush to create a more natural and healthier forest, they asked how they could do the same thing on their properties.

The project stimulated the formation of two neighborhood associations representing 300 families to reduce hazardous fuels around their homes. The Fish and Wildlife Service staff helped the neighborhood associations prepare grant applications for the National Fire Plan's Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program. The grants funded the treatment of more than 3,000 acres of private land around Leavenworth and served as a demonstration of President Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative. When a fire starts in the future, these thinned areas will help protect Leavenworth from a potential inferno.

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