Increasing Wildfire Resiliency in Chelan County - Home Hardening Rebate Program by Cascadia Conservation District

Home Hardening Rebate Program by Cascadia Conservation District

Increasing Wildfire Resiliency in Chelan County

Over the past decade, the Cascadia Conservation District (Cascadia CD) has significantly increased its efforts to help landowners in Chelan County improve wildfire resiliency. Cascadia CD, a non-regulatory entity, offers assistance with various natural resource projects. Their most recent initiative is the Home Hardening Rebate Program, available soon from Cascadia CD is designed to provide both educational and financial support for preparing homes and structures against wildfires.

Understanding Home Hardening

The primary aim of the Home Hardening Rebate Program is to incentivize homeowners to adopt effective wildfire protection practices. Research indicates that most homes lost to wildfires are first ignited by embers and small flames. Therefore, making homes and their immediate surroundings less susceptible to these elements significantly enhances their chances of surviving a wildfire. The program focuses on the home and its surrounding five feet, identified as the most vulnerable zone.  Homeowners could be eligible for up to a $500 rebate for participating in a home hardening practice.

Eligibility for the Rebate Program

Who Can Apply?

  • Property Owners and Renters in Chelan County: Both homeowners and renters can apply, but renters need a landowner agreement.
  • First-Come, First-Served Basis: Since the program is in its pilot year, sign-ups are approved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Required Steps

  1. Home Wildfire Risk Assessment:

    • If you’ve had a previous wildfire risk assessment, indicate your preferred practice for implementation.
    • If new, Cascadia CD or local fire district staff will provide a free risk assessment and recommendations.
  2. Implementing the Practice:

    • Homeowners can choose to complete the work themselves, hire a contractor, or use a combination of both.
  3. Meeting Practice Specifications:

    • Work must meet Cascadia CD’s “Practice Specifications” to qualify for the rebate.
  4. Documentation and Reimbursement:

    • Submit before and after photos along with receipts upon project completion.
    • After submission or inspection, Cascadia CD sends a check within 30 days.

Qualifying Home Hardening Practices

Eligible practices for the rebate include:

  • Caulking exterior gaps in structures.
  • Installing metal flashing on siding or deck footing.
  • Laying a gravel perimeter around structures.
  • Installing metal mesh screening under decks.
  • Replacing exterior vents or window screens.
  • Covering gutters.
  • Replacing or retrofitting fences.

Additional Wildfire Risk Reduction Programs

Cascadia CD also offers other wildfire risk reduction programs, such as the Fuel Break and Forest Resilience Partnership. However, the Home Hardening Rebate Program is unique in that it specifically targets structural improvements.

Encouragement to Participate

Cascadia CD’s specialists emphasize the importance of the program and encourage participation. Even if you're uncertain about which practices to implement or whether you need an incentive payment, reaching out for a risk assessment is highly recommended.

“It’s trying to incentivize people to do some of these home hardening practices…These are all things that have a lot of research behind them as being effective measures you can take for your home,” said Isobel Woolner, Forest and Community Resilience Specialist at Cascadia CD.

Joe Hill, another specialist at Cascadia CD, adds, “Actually being able to tell people some of the things that they could fix, and then also being able to have a program to provide that assistance is pretty awesome.”

In conclusion, the Home Hardening Rebate Program is an excellent opportunity for Chelan County residents to enhance their homes’ wildfire resilience with financial and educational support from Cascadia CD. Take advantage of this program to better protect your home and community.

More information about Cascadia CD’s programs can be found at CascadiaCD.org. Questions about the Home Hardening Rebate Program can be directed to [email protected] or [email protected].

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