Public input sought on Baraga Cty. hazard plan

L’ANSE – The Baraga County Board of Commissioners will provide an opportunity for public comment on an updated county hazard mitigation plan at its regular meeting 5 p.m. Monday at the Baraga County Courthouse.

The 2013-18 plan draft, which was developed by the Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region, is also available for public review and comment through Wednesday at the courthouse, the Village of Baraga office, the L’Anse Public Library and online at wuppdr.org.

“A hazard mitigation plan is important because it identifies concrete steps a community can take to reduce the risk or severity of its most threatening hazards,” WUPPDR Planner Jerald Wuorenmaa said. “The plan also gets people thinking about more obscure hazards they may not consider within a rural community.”

Sabotage, terrorism and public health emergencies are some of the more unlikely hazards included in the 100-page plan, alongside the most likely hazards of flooding and snowstorms. In the case of flooding, the mitigation plan can lead to infrastructure projects to reduce flood damage in the future. Because forests cover more than 80 percent of Baraga County, wildfires are also a consideration in the plan, and the top project suggested is implementing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan that was developed in 2011.

The last countywide hazard mitigation plan was completed in 2005, and some drainage projects have been completed since then, along with flood mapping of the village of L’Anse. Some others, such as updating stabilizing banks along the Sturgeon River, will carry over into the 2013 plan.

“As progress since 2005 has shown, just because projects are included in the plan does not mean they will get done,” Wuorenmaa said. “By being aware of these projects and keeping them in mind over the next several years, the public can take advantage of opportunities to inform officials of continued concerns. This could ultimately be a factor in identifying and receiving funding.”

In fact, Federal Emergency Management Agency funding eligibility for county hazard mitigation projects requires a plan to be in place. While Baraga County’s plan is open to public review and comment through Wednesday, WUPPDR’s Ontonagon County plan is available through Aug. 19. Houghton and Keweenaw County plans are both available through Aug. 23. All plan drafts are available on wuppdr.org.

Questions or comments may be directed to Wuorenmaa at 800-562-7614, extension 319, or jwuorenmaa@wuppdr.org. Written comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 365, Houghton, MI 49931.