HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Hays County is taking steps toward assessing every neighborhood in the county for wildfire risk.
The Hays County Commissioners Court recently approved applying for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Wildfire Defense Grant program for funds to complete 469 subdivision-level wildfire risk assessments.
The county said the risk assessments must be done in order for the county to update and receive state approval on the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).
This comes following a busy wildfire season in Hays County. Hundreds of acres burned and one home was destroyed in a series of fires over the summer.
“This plan will actually be instrumental in creating a much better mitigation efforts for the county,” said Hays County Director of Emergency Services Mike Jones.
469 neighborhoods to be assessed
Jones said there is currently no state-approved CWPP for Hays County.
“This will allow us to identify the 469-plus neighborhoods, what the hazards are, whether they’re medium, high risk or low,” Jones said. “Once we have that data and that information, we can better go out and communicate and educate our citizens about how they can better harden their homes.”
The USDA determined that Hays County is considered an underserved county and is eligible to apply for a cost-share waiver, meaning that no matching funds will be required.
“We don’t have all the resources the larger communities have,” Jones said.
Jones said this is unique because only a small percentage of places in the country do this.
“When you look at the the National US Forest Service, only 10% of communities in the entire United States actually have a community wildfire protection plan,” Jones said.
The grant for $249,650 will help the county pay a third party to come out and do the assessments.
“If it gets approved, it will go pretty quick,” Jones said.