On Wednesday, Sept. 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom released the 2020-21 Cal Fire Fire Prevention Grant awardees. The Hill’s Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council received $750,000 for removal of hazardous and diseased trees.
In a separate press release, Chief Thomas Porter, Cal Fire director, said, “Our wildfire and forest strategy include funding these types of fire prevention projects to
reduce the severity of wildfires and harden our communities.”
Cal Fire’s FPGs enable local organizations to conduct activities that lower the risk of wildfire and reduce its potential effects if fire should threaten a mountain community, according to the release.
“This a continuation of previous work,” said Kat Wilson, MCFSC executive director. “People need assistance for defensible space.”
The project’s goal is to remove dead, dying and/or diseased trees to improve or create more defensible space fire abatement for low-income, disabled and/or elderly property owners, Wilson explained.
Property owners will be responsible for 25% of the project cost. While the funds are not yet available, the MCFSC can begin to evaluate potential projects.
The MCFSC recently received news of two other grant awards. The first is for $800,000 to remove dead or dying oaks as a result of Goldspotted oak borer infestations. This grant is a partnership with the National Forest Foundation.
Also announced last week was the third grant from the California Fire Safe Council. MCFSC will received $200,000 for defensible space and fire abatement work. “This project is open to all San Jacinto Mountain communities property owners with defensible space [and needing] fire abatement,” Wilson said in an email.
Wilson also mentioned two other grant applications she hopes to receive approval for within the next six months.
The first would be a Cal Fire grant for fuels reduction on unimproved properties. The application had to be revised to provide for a different approach to the California Environmental Quality Act review since these properties are undeveloped. The current grant CEQA reviews for defensible space were for properties with structures. Wilson said, “This is a program that MCFSC is working on and we will need to revise our application and re-submit. The grant application requests $420,000 for this work.”
The other grant application is for federal funds for “hardening” homes for protection from fire and prevention of spread. If approved, this grant would provide $2.6 million for home improvements such as wood siding, vent protection and stronger windows, among other steps.
Looking at the grants recently awarded, Wilson could proudly write, “I feel that the three grants awarded in this past month will help the San Jacinto Mountain Communities to become ‘Fire Safe’ and an example for other mountain communities.”
And MCFSC Treasurer Jerry Holldber said, “We’re very excited about these grants, which allow us to continue our efforts within the communities.”