The San Jacinto Mountains’ Community Wildfire Protection Plan was the topic at the May 8 Mountain Emergency Services Committee meeting.
“It’s a huge community impact and is not done by the [fire or forest] agencies,” stressed Kathleen Henderson, Riverside County emergency services coordinator for the mountain.
Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council Executive Director Edwina Scott described the history of the current CWPP and presented MCFSC’s plans for revising and preparing a new plan.
CWPPs were originally authorized in the “Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003.” One of the critical purposes of a CWPP, according to the Act, is “… it identifies and prioritizes areas for hazardous fuel reduction treatments and recommends the types and methods of treatment on federal and non-federal land that will protect [one] or more at-risk communities and essential infrastructure.”
The Mountain Area Safety Taskforce initially led the effort begun in 2004 and completed in March 2006. Eventually, the MCFSC planned and organized community meetings, which were significant and critical components of the final document.
Originally, the plan was going to address fuel treatments in the Idyllwild and Pine Cove areas; but as work progressed, the coverage area expanded, Scott said. It was clear that “all the communities on the Hill from Twin Pines to Anza were inter-connected by fire threats.
“When it comes to fire, we’re all affected,” Scott said. “The right decision was to include everyone.”
The law requires regular review and updates. Some work was done in 2010. In February, MCFSC President Michael Esnard contacted local agencies — such as Riverside County Fire and Sheriff’s departments, Idyllwild Fire Protection District, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies — to begin another review of accomplishments and recommendations for future projects on the Hill.
Esnard is planning a community meeting to discuss the plan and needed work later this year. When a draft is completed, it will be available for review and comments at www.rvcweb.org/mastportal/FIREPREVENTION/SanJacintoMountainsCWPP/tabid/76/Default.aspx, Scott promised.
“We want everyone at a community meeting to hear the fire people talking to them about the fuel treatments,” Scott said.
In other MEMSCOMM business, abatement inspections are underway. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Sean Dakin said outside-Idyllwild properties are being inspected. Idyllwild Fire Capt. Mark LaMont said all Idyllwild properties will be inspected by the end of May.
Before the meeting ended, Henderson briefly described the topics for meetings later this year. She hopes to have several water district managers discuss conservation and to have Mile High Radio Club make a presentation. Vector control and the mental health of disasters may also be topics.