LITTLE ROCK, AR (News Release) – Officials with the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) have unveiled a new tool that will help homeowners and communities determine their wildfire risk, called the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, or SouthWRAP. The South is the first region in the United States to develop and adopt this type of tool. Accessible at www.southernwildfirerisk.com, the site, maps, and information are all free for everyone. SouthWRAP is also accessible from the AFC website at www.forestry.arkansas.gov.
SouthWRAP allows users across the South to understand how wildfire might impact their communities based on detailed, consistent data including landscape characteristics, vegetation types, terrain/slope, proximity between homes and forested areas, and other related variables. This data has been collected by forestry officials and satellite imagery over an 8-year period. The portal and all information included is available through a partnership between the AFC and the Southern Group of State Foresters (www.southernforests.org).
“This is an improved and exciting way to build our understanding of how to best protect Arkansas communities. It is a tool that neighbors can pass along to neighbors – making us all safer across the South,” said Joe Fox, State Forester.
Homeowners, landowners, and other interested parties may visit the website and use it very similarly to a Google Maps interface. A physical address is all that is needed to generate a wildfire risk for a community. Beyond that, data layers also allow users to generate easy-to-read maps with specifically chosen areas highlighted by wildfire risk data. No special log-in is required. Simply visit www.southernwildfirerisk.com and choose “Public Viewer.” Then, by choosing the state of Arkansas, and typing in an address, the wildfire data is readily available.
Professional users such as civic planners, forestry, fire, community, and elected officials may use SouthWRAP to generate in-depth reports based on even more layers of data. The reports are e-mailed at no cost and may serve as excellent resources for community planning, mitigation projects, equipment distribution, and the like. Professional users follow the same process as described above, however – they would request a “Professional Viewer” access level to request such reports. They also have the ability to request data exclusive to a county, or a custom-drawn fire district or subdivision.
The AFC, in partnership with forestry officials across the Southern states, intends to use the maps and information available through SouthWRAP to better advise Arkansans about wildfire preparedness and prevention. Furthermore, the AFC hopes to empower local fire officials and community groups to use the program in making better-informed decisions concerning Community Wildfire Preparedness Plans, public mitigation and cleanup efforts, wildland fire equipment distribution, and the planning/execution of general community safety education initiatives.
A full list of county-by-county AFC officials is available at www.forestry.arkansas.gov, should anyone need assistance with the site. Citizens may also call the AFC Little
Rock Headquarters at (501) 296-1944 with questions or presentation requests.
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