Chilmark endorses hazard mitigation plan

Map points out the wildfire risk Islandwide.

Chilmark has large areas of high and extreme fire danger, according to a new fire risk map. — screenshot

Chilmark’s select board unanimously endorsed a hazard mitigation plan update Tuesday night. The county-wide plan provides data, analysis, and recommendations to help Vineyard towns safeguard against threats like flooding and wildfire. 

Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) special projects planner Dan Doyle gave the board a synopsis of the plan, describing it as a five-year update of the 2015 hazard mitigation plan. Among the plan portions Doyle shared was a wildfire risk map for Chilmark. This was taken from a much-anticipated wildfire protection plan “about to be released for public comment in the upcoming week,” Doyle said. The color-coded map breaks Chilmark down into red for extreme wildfire risk, orange for high wildfire risk, yellow for moderate wildfire risk, and green for low wildfire risk.

“Over half of the town is either high or extreme risk,” Doyle said. 

Other parts of the plan focus on Chilmark’s flood risk, which Doyle said was pronounced in Menemsha and on the south shore of the town. 

In part, Doyle said the plan uses “a Massachusetts coastal flood risk model that was developed by MassDOT [Massachusetts Department of Transportation], Coastal Zone Management, and the Woods Hole Group.” 

Doyle said hard work by MVC staffer Chris Seidel provided “extensive vulnerability analysis,” which he described as “one of the most meaningful parts” of the hazard mitigation plan. He said retired MVC staffer Jo-Ann Taylor contributed a lot of work to the report. Doyle also tipped his hat to town administrator Tim Carroll and Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw for assistance with the plan, and said MVC community workshops contributed significantly.. 

Doyle told the board that approving the plan makes the town eligible for FEMA grants to help improve resiliency. 

“I want to say I support the adoption,” select board member Bill Rossi said ahead of the board’s vote. “I think it would be foolish not to.”