Fire Safe Council offers community meeting: Safety advice, fire abatement projects and GSOB are topics

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The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council will hold a community meeting at 10 a.m, Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Idyllwild Nature Center.

Three topics — preparing for a wildland fire, the goldspotted oak borer and fuels reduction projects — will be the topics discussed during the meeting.

“We need to update the community on the status of our projects and our partners’ work,” said Edwina Scott, executive director of the MCFSC. “The need to start preparing and thinking about the coming fire season is the focus of the session. There’ll be a lot of weeds and grass growing this spring.”

MCFSC has been preparing for the public session for several months and arranged for several speakers to talk about these issues with community members.

Pat Boss, MCFSC project manager, will lead the discussion of what local residents and homeowners can do for their homes before a wildfire might occur.

“He’ll suggest things residents can do to harden their homes,” said Chris Kramer, MCFSC president, “actions that will offer more protection and resistance [to their homes] from the threat of wildfire.”

The status of the GSOB is the second topic on the meeting’s agenda. Experts Dr. Tom Scott and Kevin Turner from the University of California, Riverside, cooperative extension program and Cal Fire unit forester on the mountain Battalion Chief Gregg Bratcher — familiar with the Hill environment and familiar to Hill residents — will discuss the latest research on combating the GSOB and the extent of its infestation on the Hill and in Southern California.

In addition, MCFSC has heard from several local arborists about treatments that might be effective for higher-value oaks, according to Kramer.

A discussion of the current fuels-reduction projects will be the third and final topic. Representatives from all of the local fire agencies will describe what has been accomplished, as well as future plans.

The U.S. Forest Service’s San Jacinto Ranger District Fire Chief Fred Espinoza, Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz and Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins will lead this part of the meeting.

“They’ll talk about the fire abatement projects such as fuelbreaks and community protection,” Kramer said, “work that has been ongoing behind the scenes that most residents are not aware of.”

Scott confirmed that MCFSC does have some grant money available for fire-abatement projects. For more information, call MCFSC at 951-659-6208.

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