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Deadwood gets wildfire planning recommendations

DEADWOOD (AP) -- Deadwood officials are hoping a planning document will better prepare them for when the next wildfire nears the city. Deadwood officials received recommendations last month from Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire, a grant...

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DEADWOOD (AP) - Deadwood officials are hoping a planning document will better prepare them for when the next wildfire nears the city.

Deadwood officials received recommendations last month from Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire, a grant program helping communities prepare for wildfires, the Black Hills Pioneer reported .

"The process went very smooth and was well-organized," said Bob Nelson Jr., Deadwood planning and zoning administrator. "Number one, what the city got out of it was awareness of issues that we may or may not have been paying attention to in regard to wildfire. The biggest benefit was to have an outside perspective with professional expertise guiding us through it."

The Black Hills ecosystem is mostly a fire-dependent landscape with frequent and significant fire occurrence, according to the report. The area has long experienced notable fire activity, with Deadwood being directly affected by fires in 1959 and 2002.

Deadwood was selected to receive technical assistance this year from the program's team of professional land-use planners, foresters, risk-modelers and researchers. The team focused its work with the city on including wildfire goals and policies in the next comprehensive plan.

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The planning team's biggest suggestion was to add information in the comprehensive plan to acknowledge wildfires as both necessary natural disturbances and natural hazards.

The city must aim, among other things, to create a plan identifying key community roles required to continue all levels of critical government and non-government services during and immediately after a wildfire, according to the team. Such services include finances, utilities, emergency response, health care and food supply.

A rough draft of the comprehensive plan is expected to be completed this month, with the final planning document completed next month.

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