It all started when...
a highly engaged group of local residents, local fire district members, a Chelan County Commissioner, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and several conservation organizations recognized the need to address wildfire issues in the Leavenworth community. This grassroots group received National Fire Plan grants for fire assessments of private properties and completed a local area Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) in 2005. In 2018 the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition (CWSC) updated the CWPP to include current conditions and goals.
With the resources available through the National Forest Foundation’s Capacity Building Program (CAP), the CWSC was formed in 2008 to implement the CWPP in a manner that addresses social, economic and ecological sustainability. The CWSC operates under the fiscal sponsorship of the Washington Resource Conservation and Development Council (501(c)(3)). CWSC efforts have focused on fuel reduction and monitoring fuel reduction activities in the Chumstick watershed. Over time the Coalition has expanded its engagement to a regional level by exploring biomass utilization, hosting Firewise education workshops, and seizing outreach opportunities to benefit Chelan County.
In 2013, through the work of the CWSC, the organization was designated as a a member of the national Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network. With this designation, CWSC local area boundaries expanded and now incorporates the Chelan County Fire District 3 (CCFD3) boundary and those areas outside of and adjacent to the CCFD3 boundary. The CWSC not only expanded geographically, but also in scope. Following the fires of 2014, the Washington Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network emerged to bring together fire practitioners from across the state. The CWSC joined this state network and WAFAC became a member of the national Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.
The CWSC has been a pioneer for bringing prescribed fire to Washington State. In 2016, under the sponsorship of the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative, the CWSC assisted in facilitating the 2928 Forest Resiliency Burning Pilot, providing monitoring assistance and partnering with the Wenatchee River Ranger District to facilitate prescribed fire in the Chumstick area. In 2017 the CWSC helped to coordinate the first Cascadia Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX), a training exchange for fire fighters learning how to apply fire to the land safely. The CWSC recognizes prescribed fire as an important way to restore landscapes to healthy conditions, and is working to integrate these low-intensity closely managed fires into our treatment programs.
The vision: A resilient community living with wildfire
Historically, fire was a natural part of the landscape in North Central Washington and as a result of fire suppression, the natural fire regime has been altered resulting in leaving forest stands overstocked, contiguous with ladder fuels, and infested with insects that cause tree mortality. These landscape characteristics coupled with development where communities meet the wildland and the increase in fire intensity in the Leavenworth area, leave our community at high risk for damage to lives, property, and infrastructure. As an organization we aim to create a “new natural”—a culture that coexists with wildfire and accepts fire as a natural process in our landscape. We dream of healthy forests and a community that is ready for and adapted to wildfire.
mission: to build a community, culture, and landscape adapted to FIRE
The CWSC’s highest goal is to change the social, environmental, and economic contexts in which we view fire by creating fire adapted landscapes, governments, businesses, and residents, all connected and collaborating to change the way we live and work in fire country. We strive to restore fire dependent ecosystems, and recognize fire’s place and role in the landscape. Collaboration, education, and outreach all play a strong role in how we work to accomplish our mission and ultimately achieve the vision of a resilient community living with wildfire.
WHO WE SERVE
CWSC efforts serve to impact and benefit all who live, work, and visit Leavenworth area. This includes residents and landowners, businesses, government entities, and visitors. We strive to work collaboratively with our local, state, and federal partners to fulfill mission of the organization.
Work is overseen by the Steering Committee and carried out with the help of dedicated volunteers. The dedication and participation of the Steering Committee is instrumental in CWSC success. Current Steering Committee Members include:
David Nickinovich, Chair
Andrew Holm, Past Chair
Ross Frank, Founding Member
Lloyd McGee, The Nature Conservancy
Kelly O'Brien/Dave Nalle, Chelan County Fire District 3
Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest
John Callahan, Leavenworth Area Resident
Ryan Anderson, Washington Resource and Development Council
Patrick Haggerty, Cascadia Conservation District
The CWSC also partners and collaborates with the Wenatchee River Ranger District of the US Forest Service, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the National Weather Service, Cascadia Conservation District, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.