The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council welcomed Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz to its offices Wednesday, Jan. 22, on Franklin Drive. During the afternoon, Ruiz met with FSC’s board, including President Michael Esnard and Executive Director Edwina Scott.
“Many Western states, including parts of my district, have had one of the most destructive and devastating wildfire seasons in history,” said Dr. Ruiz. “This past week I had the opportunity to meet with the Mountain Communities Fire Safety Council to discuss critical fire abatement practices and educational outreach efforts. It is critical we work as a community to moderate these disasters to save lives, property and resources.”
After a discussion of FSC’s mission and grant requests, the board gave Ruiz a tour of Idyllwild to highlight recent projects, such as re-roofing, and work to be done, such as fuelbreaks along Double View Drive.
“I see what we do as very close to public health,” Esnard told the congressman. “Disaster prevention motivates people to clean up their yards, which is very much like public heath programs.”
As a former emergency room physician, Ruiz appreciated the analogy. He explained that being trained for man-made disasters helped him fit into Congress.
As Scott described past projects and discussed FSC’s future work, Ruiz said to his staff, “How can we help them get more?” For example, he volunteered not only to attend the FSC’s annual spring firefighter muster but to become a partner.
Scott enumerated the various FSC projects, from the initial Woodies tree-thinning work, to the original Community Wildfire Protection Plan and the upcoming revision, to the replacement of cedar roofs and the fuelbreaks.
As the group began its tour of local projects, Ruiz repeated his desire to “be an advocate for you. We’ll sit down together and identify other grant funds.”
“[Ruiz] is clearly concerned about the fire risks in the mountain communities and eager to do all that he can to help,” Esnard said. “We are looking forward to working with him on a number of issues where our work connects to federal agencies. We were also delighted that he expressed an interest in coming up again to work with the Woodies sometime in the near future, which would be wonderful."