Leon Konz, Fire Mitigation Specialist

Hi, my name is Leon Konz, and I am one of three Wildfire Mitigation Specialists that work for the Buffalo-Duck River RC&D in Centerville, Tennessee. We help the Tennessee Division of Forestry (TDF) make homes and communities safer from wildfires— just like the Appalachian RC&D does; we just help in a different way. You see, the ARC&D has been helping TDF distribute grant funding to many eligible communities for about 15 years to reduce fire risks.  All during those years, individuals like myself and TDF Foresters have been out there on the ground working with the community leaders writing protection plans and helping them spend the ARC&D grants as authorized. So we have been working closely with ARC&D for many years, and it has been a fine partnership!

At this point, you may be wondering where this article is going. Well, all of us share concern about making our homes and communities safer from wildfire; the Sevier County Fires of 2016 clearly demonstrated that catastrophic wildfire losses are not just a Western problem. To help spread the word about learning to live with wildfire, myself and my counterparts will occasionally be writing articles to share information on valuable programs, concepts and newsletters. For example, we will write about topics such as community projects that the ARC&D grants have funded, Fire Adapted Communities Concept, fire prevention, Firewise USA, landscaping considerations, ignition-resistant structures, evacuations, community planning and good housekeeping practices. There is even specialized information we will share for those that live on farms.

Lastly, November is the main part of our fall fire season here in East Tennessee. If you have leaves next to buildings, on your roof, in your gutters, on or under your deck you may be at risk from flames and embers! Please check out www.BurnSafeTN.org for helpful information.  And, you can always contact your local TDF office or me at leonkonz@gmail.com, cell phone (865) 414-5667 if you need assistance.

Leon Konz
Knoxville, TN