For the casual passer-by during the winter, the rolling green hills of Waikiʻi Ranch may strike them as an area free of wildfire threats. However, over the past several years, Waikiʻi Ranch has had numerous close calls with wildfires that have burned in and around the subdivision. The subdivision is exposed on each side by large tracts of unmanaged grass and shrublands prone to ignition from starts along neighboring roads and highways.
On March 6, HWMO teamed up with Hawaiʻi Fire Department and Waikiʻi Ranch HOA to conduct a Firewise hazard assessment for Waikiʻi. The group first met at the community clubhouse to discuss what it takes for a community to become Firewise certified. As a major first step towards certification, the a few members of the group drove to various points of interest within the community. Some of the major wildfire hazards that struck our attention included the many dead trees along the edges of roads and fencelines, piles of wood underneath tree canopies, and large expanses of unmanaged grass and shrublands surrounding homes and the greater Waikiʻi area.
The association has been allocating some of their funds and resources towards Firewise improvements already. Most notably, the community has herds of cows, goats, and sheep that are used to graze easements along the perimeters of properties and the subdivision boundary. As more and more people in Waikiʻi join the Firewise efforts, the community will hopefully become another shining example in Hawaiʻi and a part of a statewide collaborative, grassroots movement for communities to take fire readiness into their own hands.