For the past year (and every year since 2002), the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council has been working hard to help members of our community with their fire abatement, and provide education for new residents and weekenders.

We also sponsor an all-volunteer group, the Woodies, who provide firewood for those who can’t afford it and light abatement work for those who can’t afford it.

As I have said before in this column, we depend on grants from the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and Riverside County, donations from our community, and membership dues to pay contractors, who do the heavy lifting, so to speak, on a 65/35 percent basis for homeowners. We also use the funds for our biannual newsletter and other educational materials that are free to the public.

This year, we hope to produce a fire-safety trifold for new homeowners that our realtors can hand out and a single-page flier that our property-management businesses can utilize, such as, when dealing specifically with the handling of ashes from wood stoves and fireplaces.

From March 2017 to March 2018, 127 properties were abated on the Hill, and 95 standing dead and dying trees that posed a fire and safety hazard were removed through the efforts of the MCFSC.

The Woodies group donated 1,100 hours of labor to the community during that period. This included eight properties abated and 85 cords of wood processed for the Idyllwild Help Center to distribute.

MCFSC uses the value of this work as a match for federal grants. The total value of the wood and work hours was greater than $51,000.

We appreciate everyone who supports the Fire Safe Council and the Woodies.

Remember, when you are vigilant about keeping your property fire safe, you are helping yourself and your neighbors. It generally takes more work to live here compared to city life, but the rewards are sure worth it.

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