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More wildfire support for rural Pierce County residents

Rural residents on the Key Peninsula and in East Pierce County will soon have more resources to prepare for wildfires thanks to a $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA awarded the money to Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department for a 3 year period. It will help us build community capacity to protect against wildfires, wildfire smoke, and the health effects associated with both.

“Climate change is linked to longer, warmer, and drier summers that lead to an increase in wildfires,” said Cindy Haverkamp, Climate Justice Coordinator. “This new problem might be a lasting one. We must do all we can to help prepare our community.”

Funding will support the community-led Wildfire Preparedness Initiative, where community residents will work together to sustain community resilience. The Health Department will work with Pierce Conservation District and community partners. They will deliver outreach and education, and develop relationships to form coalitions in 3 underserved, rural communities.

Wildfire grant project areas

We chose these communities because they have more people than other areas in Pierce County who:

  • Are 65 and older.
  • Live alone.
  • Have disabilities.
  • Have lower birthweights and life expectancies at birth.
  • Are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health Department and conservation district staff will work with Center for New Democratic Processes to lead community members through civic engagement. Each community will focus on wildfire dialogue, finishing with a county-wide wildfire summit. We will also help develop and implement community-led plans to improve health outcomes when wildfires strike.

This work will capitalize on momentum built through previous initiatives like the:

Learn more about how to protect your health from wildfire smoke at

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of 321 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at

Wildfire smoke

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