The City of Wenatchee is located along the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range, along the Columbia River. The City has a history of wildfires, including the recent 2015 Sleepy Hollow Fire, which destroyed 30 homes and caused significant losses in the industrial and commercial areas of the City.
In 2010, the City adopted a local wildland-urban interface (WUI) code, and in 2016 Wenatchee became a CPAW community to help strengthen existing policies and regulations and explore future opportunities for improvement. During a year-long process, a multi-disciplinary team worked with local stakeholders to understand Wenatchee’s unique wildfire planning needs.
Four overarching recommendations were included in the CPAW team’s final report:
- Develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the City of Wenatchee;
- Redefine the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) and Implement a WUI Risk Assessment Program;
- Update the Wildland-Urban Interface Regulations; and
- Update the Comprehensive Plan to Address Wildfire Implementation.
Since receiving its CPAW recommendations, Wenatchee updated its Comprehensive Plan, including many wildfire mitigation goals and policies suggested by CPAW’s recommendations. Updated policies include the development of a CWPP, a review of the development code, and land use recommendations from CPAW, such as the implementation of secondary access, and ecological-based fire management for open space and recreation areas.
Updates to the comprehensive plan and community outreach also led to increased wildfire mitigation discussions throughout the planning process as a result of the CPAW program, such as ensuring adequate water supply for new developments, referencing wildfire mitigation measures in infrastructure grants, and coordinating with Chelan County stakeholder groups to create a defensible space landscape planning guide and a Fire Resistant Plants for Chelan/Douglas County Washington guide
- 2016 CPAW Community
- Population (2014): 32,950
- Growth Rate (2000-2015): 18.3%
- Fuel Type: grassland, sage-steppe, ponderosa pine
After the Sleepy Hollow fires we realized our whole community could be impacted by such an event, not just the Wildland Urban Interface, and that we needed to be prepared and have the political will to put the necessary plans in place to be prepared for the next event. The CPAW process gave us the guidance and insight we needed to move forward in partnership with our local agencies and the community at large.