The 2017 Community Wildfire Protection Plan was unanimously approved 4-0 by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Dec. 12. Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington was absent due to illness.

The plan is a revision of the original 2006 plan. Both Norm Walker, president of the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council, and Edwina Scott, executive director, are excited to obtain the board’s approval.

“I can’t imagine anything happening to change it. I don’t see any surprises,” said Scott, before the vote. She was hoping to distribute the new CWPP at the next Mountain Area Safety Taskforce meeting.

But relaxation is not on their horizon. Both said the local fire agencies, involved with the CWPP’s preparation, are planning to do an update in two years.

“This will be easier and less work. It will be an update rather than a revision,” Walker noted. “And Chief Reitz [Idyllwild Fire] brought up more involvement of the agency [incident commanders].”

The CWPP reflects the needs and priorities of the communities, which prepare it. And Scott said that will continue to be a promise. The MCFSC held a public meeting in late July to obtain this public advice.

The community recommendations included support for another MCFSC project to replace cedar-shake roof tiles. The original project replaced more than 100 roofs in town. Scott said she will seek more community support a second grant.

Also, some people recommended “stricter regulations and fines for not doing abatement.”

The local agencies include the U.S. Forest Service’s San Jacinto Ranger District, Cal Fire and the Riverside County Fire Department and the Idyllwild Fire Department.

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.

Local water agencies also are partners in the efforts to strengthen fire protection and reduce the threat of damage. Pine Cove Water District is planning to extend water lines and install more hydrants with the district.

The plan emphasizes projects that will prevent or mitigate fires if they start. Consequently, fuel breaks are one of the major efforts for the Forest Service and Cal Fire.

From the CWPP’s Executive Summary, it states, “Evidence collected after the Mountain fire indicated that fuel breaks 10 yrs. old or less were still effective. Some prescribed burns were effective up to 15 years later although that effectiveness fell off sharply after that age. Fire abatement around homes was also effective when well maintained.”

“After 10 years, everything can grow back,” Scott said.

For more information about the CWPP, contact the MCFSC at 951-659-6208.

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