History of UPEPC
As long-term drought focused attention nationwide on the potential dangers of wildland fire, the Wind River District of the US Forest Service called a meeting of area residents to discuss the specific conditions that were being identified in the Union Pass area relative to that danger. That meeting was the trigger event that has evolved over the past decade into a much broader based program, including the grass-roots organization of residents that we call UPEPC (most easily pronounced U-Pepsi).
The UPEPC was officially founded in the spring of 2003, representing a set of ten small subdivisions (300+ individual properties) of mostly part-time residents, all branching out along an 8-10 mile main county road leading into the Shoshone National Forest, which, along with some BLM land, bounds the subdivisions. Though its official structure is still minimal, the UPEPC has begun to focus on the work that needs to be done within and by the neighborhood to lessen the impact of fire endangerment due to the preponderance of vast stands of timber which surrounds the area.
However, the organization did not happen without a series of contacts and assistance from other organizations along the way. Our first long-term source of advice and inspiration as a neighborhood came through the Wyoming Division of Forestry.A local resident was enlisted to serve as part-time coordinator for what became the “Fremont County Wildland Fire Management Project” and the educational part of specifics that needed immediate attention began.
It soon became apparent that the scope of the project needs would require full-time professional management, and a full time Hazardous Fuels Coordinator was hired by the Fremont County Fire Protection District to coordinate and guide the next steps to extensive concrete actions. Additional prior groundwork was laid, immediate and extensive focus was on research, setting of objectives, and communication contacts among a myriad of related agencies. A community produced emergency information survey project was created to acquire voluntary data from individual property owners that would help local emergency responders.
At that point, to complement and enhance the work Fremont County Wildfire was undertaking on our behalf, we knew we needed more than just our loose group we called the “steering committee” and evolved to a more structured and coordinated area-wide entity. With a statement of purpose and a set of proposed projects hammered out, and with an active Hazardous Fuels program in place, we then reached out to the entire Union Pass community for general membership support and participation.