Wildfire Plan topic of community meeting

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Fire Safe Council plans open session

The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council wants to discuss the next version of the Hill’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan with Hill residents. This version will replace the original plan created in July 2006 and updated in 2010.

The community session starts at 7 p.m. Monday, July 31, at Town Hall.

“We’d like people to focus on the fuel projects,” said Edwina Scott, MCFSC executive director. “The revised plan has no major changes … and risk of fire hazard has not changed. I thought the Hill fires would lower it.”

The agency members of the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce all have contributed to the plan’s revision, she added.

There will be a section discussing the completed projects and another sector directed at projects planned in the next few years.

“It’s an opportunity to renew their knowledge of the document, which was originally drafted in 2006,” said Norm Walker, MCFSC president and still a firefighter. “It’s also an opportunity to offer ideas for the agencies to entertain… We plan to update it every two years.”

For example, with the funding from different federal grant sources, MCFSC has completed 10 major projects affecting nearly 1,500 lots on the Hill from Pinyon to Poppet Flats. This does not include the project that replaced cedar-shake shingle roofs in Idyllwild and Pine Cove.

The fire agencies will discuss fuelbreaks, vegetation removal and prescribed burns. Cal Fire plans burns and brush-thinning projects in the Pinyon area. The U.S. Forest Service will be present, too.

The Idyllwild Fire Department is identifying and clearing fuels from public right-of-ways and easements.

Southern California Edison remains a partner in the efforts to improve fire protection of the Hill. Its crews continue to remove dead or dying trees that threaten the electric supply to the Hill. In the first four months of 2017, SCE reported removing 190 trees. In all of 2006, 650 trees were removed.

And water agencies are involved in the effort to improve fire protection and reduce the threat of damage. Pine Cove Water District is planning to extend water lines and install more hydrants within the district. This work enables firefighters access to water along the western and southern flanks of Idyllwild and Pine Cove.

“Our community has experienced fire,” Scott emphasized, and mentioned the 2006 Esperanza Fire and the 2013 Mountain and Silver fires. “We want to hear what the community sees as successful and their suggestions.”

Esri of Redlands is working with the MCFSC to prepare new maps of the Hill and current project locations, Walker added.

If interested, readers can participate in a survey of the CWPP. The survey is accessed at the MCFSC website, mcfsc.org/cwpp-survey/.

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