The following is a press release from the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council:
The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council (MCFSC) has been awarded three new CAL FIRE grants totaling over $3.5 million over the next three years, for several projects reinforcing wildfire safety in key locations around the county. MCFSC and CAL FIRE have been working together to identify the highest priorities for safety treatments.
Nearly 90% of Mendocino County is in a high or very high fire-hazard severity zone, and MCFSC’s mission is to help county residents survive and thrive in our wildfire-prone environment. These grant projects address that mission through several strategies.
The largest of the CAL FIRE grants, received through a competitive application process, provides $2.5 million for safer evacuation and firefighter access in selected areas near Yorkville (Elkhorn Road), Laytonville (Cherry Creek), Lake Mendocino (Vista Del Lago), and Willits (Ridgewood). Roadside clearing will remove branches and brush that encroach on key access roads, making those roads safer in an emergency for both residents and responders, and also creating a fuel break to stop advancing fires.
Nearly two thousand residents and daytime workers will receive enhanced protection from this particular fuel-reduction project. Planning will be done in coordination with residents, Neighborhood Fire Safe Councils, and local fire departments in each area, to be sure that local risks and needs are appropriately addressed. Environmental clearance from the State of California will also be obtained before work is begun.
This grant also involves an educational outreach component in which interested community members will be invited to witness 300 home inspections (with landowner permission) for real-life demonstrations of what home conditions are the most dangerous, and what can be done to make them safer. Attendees of these “field trips” will learn about the basic principles of hardening a home against wildfire and creating defensible spaces around their own residences. A recent study demonstrated that a home is up to 75% more likely to survive a wildfire if it has been adequately prepared in advance.
The other two CAL FIRE grants were direct, non-competitive awards, reflecting the confidence CAL FIRE places in MCFSC’s ability to help them achieve their mutual goals in severely high-risk areas. One of these grants provides $600,000 mainly for scientific studies to obtain environmental clearance for future prescribed-burn and road-clearing projects CAL FIRE plans to implement covering over 10,000 acres in the county.
The third award, for $435,000, will focus on the Ukiah Valley and Orr Springs Road east of Comptche. Environmental clearance and fuel breaks, as well as environmental studies to prepare for prescribed burns, will be done in the very high-risk areas of both the East and West Hills of the Ukiah Valley. These will help protect the entire valley’s population of 13,000, as well as critical infrastructure and essential services, by slowing or preventing wildfires that might otherwise reach into the city itself.
This third project also includes roadside clearing along a portion of Orr Springs Road, a primary access route serving several population centers. Orr Springs Road is one of the few available options for a significant east-west fire break across Mendocino County without creating a substantially more expensive and environmentally disruptive off-road fuel break.
This multifaceted cooperative support from CAL FIRE will help make thousands of residents in many Mendocino County locations safer from potential future wildfires. For more information about the work and services of the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, visit firesafemendocino.org or contact MCFSC at 707-462-3662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.