Wildfire prevention is a hot topic in California and a very real and pressing issue for local residents. In 2016 the Soberanes Fire came very close to home for many people, and in the wake of both the Paradise and the Carr Fires, community resilience and wildfire prevention are vital to future emergency planning and peace of mind.
With this in mind, the CRWC Advisory Council has been working with several key community members to address these concerns. Jamie Tuitele-Lewis, Monterey County’s Fuel Mitigation Coordinator, has been the cornerstone of this project. He has successfully brought in multiple grants to fund the mapping of fuel breaks – areas where brush and flammable debris has been cleared to create a pathway meant to slow or stop the spread of wildfire — in the south of Carmel Valley, and continues to work to fund education, controlled burns, and continued clearance to create barriers to fire spread on private property.
He is also working on a project to use Geographic Information System Mapping (GIS) to map fire infrastructure. This GIS project creates a map of fire routes, fire hydrants, water lines and fuel breaks, and will be used in future projects to maintain these fuel breaks. There is also discussion of how best to create a geodatabase to share this information with the community. Access to the database is important for all stakeholders, including the community members, the fire departments, and the individuals working on maintenance on both public and private lands. Access to information is key in preparing for emergencies and increases community transparency. Creating and maintaining fuel breaks is especially important and includes the clearing of invasive plants, many of which propagate very quickly and are extremely flammable. Many environmental issues are intrinsically linked and the health of our communities and our ecosystem are closely tied together.
There are other projects in the works as well. Jamie is concurrently working on other grants to fund education, outreach and the creation of an association to facilitate controlled burns as a method of fire risk mitigation. CRWC Advisory Council members are also researching Home Owners’ Associations to create comprehensive evacuation plans for the residents. Wildfire prevention is a statewide concern and our community, including CRWC, is proudly investing in proactive measures to prevent and limit the spread of wildfire. Keep an eye out for more fire prevention updates in the next newsletter!