Living in the West, the phrases “fuel mitigation” or “defensible landscape” hold more meaning than other regions of the country.

Wildfires across the Rocky Mountains, the Bighorns and the rest of the South and West have garnered a lot of national attention over the last few years. In 2017, Montana had one of its worst fire seasons in history. California, too, saw several large fires. In 2015, the Sheep Creek Fire burned more than 1,500 acres of land on the Bighorns.

The beauty and the wild nature of the area draws people to live here. But, when you build in such areas, precautions should be taken to protect not only your life and property, but the lives and property of those who show up when wildfires occur.

Staff at Sheridan County, the Wyoming State Forestry Division, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management deserve kudos for organizing a fuels mitigation workshop for June 2 in Sheridan (register at, but their efforts mean little if landowners don’t sign up and learn how to protect themselves and others.

Some may say that ignoring mitigation efforts hurts no one but the landowners themselves, but that simply isn’t true.

Firefighters and others who respond to wildfires face increasing pressure to protect life and property. If a home is not prepared — which includes reducing vegetation around homes and structures, storing firewood away from the home, watering lawns around homes — the job of firefighters becomes increasingly difficult and increasingly dangerous. 

As the grass waving on the prairies greens up then dries out, take time to prepare yourself and your property. You’ll do more than reduce the cost of damage, you may save a life.