Conservation districts (CD) like Skagit and San Juan Islands CD in Washington State are partnering with local, state and federal agencies to update decades-old Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP).

The U.S. Forest Service has guidelines for updating CWPPs, but the process is left up to the local groups coordinating the effort. That can present both opportunities and challenges.

The Skagit CD developed the first county-wide CWPP in 2008 alongside Skagit County, as they updated their Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan (NHMP), relying on community members, the county Department of Emergency Management, county officials, and state and federal staff as partners.

In 2019, the county was updating its plan and requested the conservation district do the same, with the idea that the CWPP would become the wildfire section of the NHMP. However, it proved a challenge, said Skagit Conservation District Community Wildfire Resilience Coordinator Jenny Coe.

“There were a lot of lessons learned,” Coe said.