The following is a letter from Scott Cratty, executive director of the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council. This will be the first in a recurring column from Mr. Cratty, and the Fire Safe Council.
Greetings from the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council (MCFSC)! The MCFSC exists “to inform, empower and mobilize county residents to survive and thrive in a wildfire-prone environment.” And that is a very, very tall order. But, as local and nearby events in the last few years have made abundantly clear, preparing for wildfire is a priority for all of us.
So, we all have lots of work to do get prepared — however, it doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. Creating your own neighborhood fire safe council, for example, is a great way to build possibly life-saving connections with your neighbors, not to mention a great excuse to have neighborhood potlucks or barbecues. Working to meet defensible space requirements around your home also provides you with a mandate to get out and experience nature in beautiful Mendocino County — and that’s all good, right?
Another positive is that the MCFSC itself is ramping up to support your neighborhood team. As part of that effort, I will be making regular posts here; I’ll be describing:
- Where to find great information about how to prepare your home and neighborhood for fire season.
- How to get high-visibility reflective address signs so that emergency personnel can locate you promptly.
- Why and how to start your own Neighborhood Fire Safe Council.
- How to identify and document important fire-safety projects in your neighborhood.
- How to record your work efforts to improve fire resilience in your area (which helps us all by attracting even more funding for local projects).
But today my focus is the Ukiah Valley Fire Fuel Reduction (UVFFR) Project, which hit the ground on Robinson Creek Road last week. The UVFFR is a substantial road-clearing and fuel-break project. It is the result of a grant application prepared and supported by the County of Mendocino, which did a lot of heavy lifting to make this happen. It is funded by Cal Fire and California Climate Investments. Over the next year, this project will extend the fire-break work that Cal Fire has already completed in Ukiah’s western hills further to the north, and add additional breaks along the west side of U.S. Route 101 south of town, and in strategic locations on the east side.
Work being done right now is roadside clearing, to help prevent wildfire spread and make emergency access and evacuation routes safer. Our project contractor, Family Tree Services, has started work on Robinson Creek Road. Soon they will move to the following eastside-Ukiah roads: Hulda Drive, Knob Hill Road, Rafello Drive, Redemeyer Road, Ridge Road, Vichy Hills Drive, Vichy Springs Road and Watson Road. On the western side of the valley, road clearing is coming to Crestview Drive, Fircrest Drive, Oak Knoll Road, and Spanish Canyon Drive.
To achieve the best and safest access on these roads, and make the most of this grant opportunity, we need all property owners to fill out “landowner access agreement” forms, so that your portion of the roadside can be fully included.
Two important upcoming meetings will give you a chance to learn about the project, including how to mark plants that you do or don’t want removed, and to sign a landowner access agreement form for your own property. Please plan to attend if you are a landowner or resident on any of the roads listed above.
What: UVFFR Project Community Meetings
Where: Ukiah City Council Chambers, 300 Seminary Ave
When #1: Eastern Hills, Monday March 9, 6:00-7:30pm.
When #2: Western Hills, Tuesday March 10, 6:00-7:30pm
Want to know more? Visit our website at https://firesafemendocino.org/uvffrp/. Want to know even more? Go to our Facebook page. If you have questions you can also contact the MCFSC at [email protected] or call 707-462-3662.
Executive Director, Mendocino County Fire Safe Council