Rhode Island is the US’s smallest state. It is made up of 1,214 square miles. Driven north to south, one would travel 49 miles and from east to west, only 37 miles. Known as the Ocean State, the state is almost divided into two parts by the Narragansett Bay and has over 400 miles of coastline. Rhode Island boasts the second highest population per square mile. Lesser known is that 50% of this small state is forested land. The state oversees this forested land by providing a Forest Ranger each for its northern and southern divisions. This with a few administrative personnel makes up the state’s Wildfire bureau.
2013 Fire Report: 49 Fires ~ 53 Acres Burned
Wildfire Prevention Concerns include:
1. Dry and curing woody fuels on the ground. Like its New England neighboring states, the weather/natural events of the past several years, Hurricanes Irene and most recently Sandy, along with various nor’easters has left above average amounts of downed trees and branches on its forest floor.
2. Fire roads are inaccessible. Diminished funds and current staffing levels have hampered maintenance of fire roads built decades ago. This is a widespread problem both in the state and local forested areas.
3. Wildland Urban Interface issues are building as housing in the southwest, southern and northern counties grows. State wildfire personnel are concerned that wildfire situational awareness by local fire departments hasn’t increased as has the potential for wildfire.
1. The Forest Rangers step up their forest patrols during high danger fire days.
2. An on-going Smokey Bear programming is being maintained with schools, youth organizations, outdoor groups and fairs.
3. The state is looking into requesting assistance with its wildfire prevention concerns from the NFFPC’s Fire Prevention Education Team (FPET).