Wildfire mitigation efforts are well underway in the Carmel River watershed and greater Monterey County ahead of a likely active wildfire season. Currently, the Firewise USA communities within the Carmel River Watershed are Robles del Rio and Rancho Tierra Grande. More information on how to become a certified Firewise community can be found HERE.
The Monterey County Regional Fire District in collaboration with the Fire Safe Council of Monterey County and the Robles Firewise Group is hosting a “Defensible Space Bootcamp: Protecting Your Home from Wildfire” on Saturday, June 12th at the Carmel Valley Village Fire House. This is an in-person event dedicated to preparing the community for the upcoming wildfire season. Sessions will include informational presentations, demonstrations, and an online auction. All participants will also have the chance to win a $5,000 gift certificate from Ember Defense for a complete retrofit of all air vents of a home up to 3,000 sq ft. For more information on how to register, click HERE.
In May, the Carmel Valley Wildfire Mitigation Project hosted three webinars in collaboration with Thriving Earth Exchange. The sessions included information from panelists covering the topics: “Emergency Planning and Preparing for Evacuations,” “Moving Toward a Fire-Resilient Landscape (vegetation management),” and “Taking Steps Toward Community Wildfire Preparedness”. Recordings of these sessions are available for public viewing and can be found on the AGU YouTube Channel.
One should also take into consideration biodiversity while protecting structures. Fuel maintenance should be balanced with efforts to preserve native habitat within the natural wildfire regime. The Santa Lucia Conservancy has published a “Invasive Plant Management on The Santa Lucia Preserve: A Landowner’s Guide” which can be accessed HERE. It is a comprehensive guide which details how to properly identify and manage invasive weeds, which are a threat to native biodiversity and act as fuel for wildfires. The classic invasive species in our watershed is ‘genista’, and should be removed wherever it is found in the watershed.
Ongoing work at the Monterey County Resource Conservation District (RCD) includes the Carmel Valley Fuelbreak Project, which the RCD will propose during the fall round of CAL FIRE grants. Additionally, the Los Padres Strategic Community Fuelbreak Collaborative Project is in the late stages of analysis for the California Environmental Quality Act.
Other efforts within the County include a project at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve to remove seven acres of non-native invasive eucalyptus trees. The removal of the invasive tree is intended to facilitate the restoration of native grassland and coast live oak groves. This project is expected to improve habitat for threatened species of amphibians that reside within the Slough, including the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander and the California Red-legged frog.
The Monterey County Regional Fire District, as well as CalFire, have personnel available, upon request, to meet with people at their home or business and suggest ways that can make the property safer and more defensible in a wildfire. Many of the key items to address are simple things to do, such as removing debris from gutters or on roofing where an ember could land from a wildfire that is still quite a distance away.