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Blount County Communities Nationally Recognized for Wildfire Preparedness

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 | 10:25am

NASHVILLE – The Laurel Valley and Little Round Top communities of Townsend, Tenn. have earned Firewise USA recognition from the National Fire Protection Association based on their efforts to reduce the vulnerability of homes and landscapes to wildfire. These communities join 18 others in Tennessee to earn this recognition since the program started in 2002.

In celebration of these accomplishments, Townsend will host two ceremonies on March 22. At 11 a.m. EDT, the Little Round Top ceremony will be held at Townsend Fire Station #4, located at 7622 East Lamar Alexander Parkway. At 2 p.m., the Laurel Valley ceremony will be held at the Wild Laurel Golf Course, located at 702 Country Club Drive.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry will present the communities with a commemorative plaque and Firewise USA street signs. Community leaders, homeowners, representatives from the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Division of Forestry officials will attend.

“Little Round Top and Laurel Valley are model communities by taking responsibility to address their wildfire safety concerns,” State Forester Jere Jeter said. “The Firewise USA program has provided the framework to develop a more prepared community with wildfire awareness and risk reduction activities.”

The free and voluntary Firewise USA recognition program allows communities to apply for grants from the Division of Forestry to implement projects specified in their Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

To earn the recognition, the communities worked with the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Division of Forestry to conduct wildfire hazard assessments and develop protection plans to address safety concerns. Residents then worked together to implement the plans to reduce fire risk.

“The 2016 fires on Chilhowee Mountain near Walland and in Sevier County have shown us that there are things we can do for our homes and community to reduce the risk,” Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters said. “We welcome the opportunity to work with others in the same way.”

For more information about the Firewise USA program, please contact Nathan Waters at 865-776-2111 or click here.