Fire & Forest: The next Community Wildfire Protection Plan begins …

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The San Jacinto Mountains Community Wildfire Protection Plan, a document created more than 10 years ago, is about to undergo a much-needed update.

The CWPP came about and was authorized by a congressional action back in 2003. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 was designed to improve the ability of governmental agencies to conduct hazardous fuels reduction projects on National Forest System and Bureau of Land Management lands. The main focus is protecting communities and surrounding areas from catastrophic wildfire.

The HFRA encourages and emphasizes the need for communities to work with federal agencies and collaborate on developing hazardous fuels-reduction projects, and to prioritize these within the CWPP.

Before I go too far and since I’m throwing around acronyms, let me introduce another one that needs an explanation about now. The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is the area “where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland.”

Now think about a few cities we all know: Hemet, Riverside and San Diego, for example. While we might think of these as dense urban areas, they do have locations on their hillsides and canyons where structures intermix with wildland fire fuels. Therefore, a WUI within a city is not uncommon.

Our WUI boundaries for the San Jacinto Mountains are roughly at the base of the mountain to the west, north and east, and to the unincorporated community of Anza to the south across to the Pinyon area. Our CWPP encompasses this general area.

The various agencies and groups involved in creating our current CWPP will have input to update their section of the plan. The revised plan will cover many topics, such as forest condition, values at risk, fire-protection capability, community preparedness, community action plan and environmental concerns.

It really is a well-put-together document with a great deal of background, history and the resources involved to protect not only our forest but our community, should it be needed. It also serves as a necessary document that is sometimes required when applying for grant monies to justify proposed fuel reduction and fire-abatement work projects in our area.

So as the work on this progresses and it gets further along, public meetings will be scheduled for feedback and input. Before then, stop by the local library or online (www.mcfsc.org/Documents/2006_sanjac_fireplan.pdf) and become enlightened and familiar with the SJMCWPP. It’s only a few hundred pages of light reading and gives a great deal of insight into what has gone into preparing our mountain communities for the threat of wildfire.

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