FIRESafe MARIN, in cooperation with Marin County Fire Department secured $123,200 to rewrite and update Marin’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan to reduce elevated fire threats during the fourth consecutive year of drought conditions.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (CAL FIRE) new statewide Fire Prevention Fund program was created in the 2014-15 state budget to provide more than $9.5 million in grants to local agencies to aid them in their wildfire prevention efforts during the drought.
Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber highlighted that one of the features that makes Marin so desirable — its proximity to open space — is also exactly what puts many in the County at serious risk in the event of a wildfire. “We’re very excited about this grant because wildfire poses one of the greatest risks to many of our communities,” he said.
The Marin Community Wildfire Protection Plan was last updated in 2005, and while the core protection strategies in the plan are still relevant today, the last decade has brought important technological, biological, and development changes to Marin. The rewrite will help local agencies and residents better prepare against the threat of a present-day wildfire by incorporating geographic information system (GIS) data from land managers on fuel types and sensitive environmental areas and species. The new plan also will consider development in the past 10 years, and re-identify the communities and areas most at risk and the best methods to protect them.
Continuing the communitywide approach taken in the 2005 document, the new protection plan will focus on emphasizing multi-jurisdictional and countywide efforts to reduce overall risk. Mitigating wildfire risk means participation by all cities, towns and residents in Marin; failing to take preventative and risk-reducing measures in one region can put neighboring areas at much higher risk when it comes to the spread of a wildfire.
Weber reinforced the importance of connecting communities and building partnerships in the new protection plan. “It is our responsibility to continue to invest and develop achievable goals in partnership with our residents and land owners to ensure we establish the safest community possible,” he said.
The CAL FIRE grant is the latest in a series of grants secured in MCFD’s partnership with FIRESafe MARIN, a nonprofit organization focused on reducing wildland fire hazards and improving fire-safety awareness in Marin. In the fall, FIRESafe MARIN helped the Fire Department secure PG&E funding for the installation of fire detection cameras on four peaks in the county.
“FIRESafe MARIN is happy to be able to provide a forum for a deep conversation about fire safety in our community as our members include fire agencies, public land managers and neighborhood groups,” said FIRESafe MARIN President Mike Swezy.
The Fire Department has already begun laying the framework for the new Wildfire Protection Plan, with the hope of completing a draft in time for the 20th anniversary of the Mount Vision Fire in Inverness. Started by an incompletely extinguished campfire, the Mount Vision fire destroyed 43 homes and burned more than 12,000 acres in October 1995.
As the state gears up for another parched summer with little sign of any rain relief, counties statewide are doing what they can to reduce the risk of large fires which threaten people, property and sensitive ecosystems. Eighty-three Fire Prevention Fund Grants were awarded to local agencies in California, with 10 going to the Bay Area counties of Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma and Santa Clara.