In its final meeting of 2012, the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce heard about several projects and plans, which will bear fruit in 2012.

Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins discussed the changes in direct protection areas on the Hill between CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service. (See the Dec. 13 issue for details and a map.) Besides these agencies, Bureau of Land Management areas were also part of the realigned responsibilities, according to Hawkins.

“These changes will not affect the level of response,” Hawkins stressed. “The response to wildfires will continue to be immediate, decisive and aggressive.”

Randy Unkovich, deputy fire prevention officer for the San Bernardino National Forest, affirmed Hawkins’ comments and stressed the level of cooperation that exists among the fire agencies within the San Jacinto Ranger District.

“The Forest Service wants to take an opportunity to see if they could apply the national strategy priorities to appropriate resources at the forest level,” he said, explaining the timing of the modifications. “In the end, it turns out to be quite a great thing, at least with our relationship with CAL FIRE and Riverside County Fire. We’ve worked cohesively more in the past 12 months than the past 12 years.”

Hawkins announced CAL FIRE will move two more fire engines to the Hill in 2013, in Pine Cove and Anza. And there will be no change in the Forest Service’s coverage across the San Jacinto Mountains, Unkovich said.

The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council has submitted its plans for implementing the cedar shake shingle roof project to CAL EMA, said Edwina Scott, FSC executive director. They plan to replace more than 120 roofs on the Hill once the funding is available.

FSC President Michael Esnard said research and investigation of a possible wood-burning co-generation plant are still being pursued. He has a meeting on this subject scheduled in January.