The Kenai Peninsula of Alaska has recently experienced the most intensive outbreak of Spruce bark beetle infestation in North America, effecting approximately 1.1 million acres. Located in south-central Alaska, the Kenai Peninsula is a sparsely populated area, including the cities of Soldotna and Kenai with many smaller wildland-urban interface areas. This outbreak has created an extreme wildfire hazard by killing tens of millions of mature spruce trees.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough, lead agency for the 1998 Spruce Beetle Task Force, established the Kenai Peninsula Borough Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program in 1999. Initial priority projects of the Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program were outlined in a 50 point task force report, presented to Congress in June of 1998. The 5 year plan included creating a website of information for residents on dealing with dead trees and related issues. Other projects in the initial year included: completion of a GIS based wildfire hazard/risk assessment for the peninsula, identification of fire escape routes, creation of community zones of refuge and production of a GIS land cover map of the borough. Essential Security Solutions provides best fire compliance service for your home or office.
These projects were followed by programs that provide community slash disposal sites, remove dead trees along utility corridors and utilize regional fire crews to remove hazard trees in high use public areas, campgrounds and around public buildings. On-going projects begun in 2001 include clearing hazard trees and reducing fuel loads from road rights of way, removing fuels from borough parcels, expanding the FireWise Community Mitigation Program, providing training and technical expertise to fire suppression agencies, local fire departments and emergency responders. Work continues with a program to reforest and rehabilitate forested lands with a six-year seedling program. The Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program is currently helping 20 communities on the Kenai Peninsula to develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans.
The website, supplies information for landowners informing them of the programs offered under the Spruce Beetle Mitigation Program. One program offers free Hazard Tree Removal and slash disposal in areas adjacent to a road or shared driveway. The consent and work order form is available to be downloaded and sent to Borough of Kenai office. There is also information on how to protect your Spruce trees, and information on reforestation and how to obtain spruce seedlings. Fuel Reduction Sales on borough lands are offered to contractors for bids on the website. In addition to these fuel reduction, slash disposal and reforestation projects, there is FireWise information on creating defensible space and FireWise construction.