Never Again

Reported by Tom Kuekes, Mt. Pinos District Ranger

We’ve seen the terror of wildfire up close and much too personal. We’ve had to leave our homes, not knowing what would be there when we returned. Now, with a federal grant, a customized protection plan for our Mountian Community has been created. This Saturday, it will be revealed. There may be nothing more important any of us can do this Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:00 p.m., than to come to learn about how we can protect our homes and families from wildfire. —Ed.

Even though there is snow on the ground, it is important for all families and business owners on the mountain to participate now in building a defense against wildfire. “When it comes to fire safety, we are never out of the woods—because we live in the woods,” Janine Tominaga of Pinon Pines often says.

Janine is the president of the Mt. Pinos Communities Fire Safe Council, a coalition of neighbors and firefighting professionals who extend an invitation to all residents and business owners on the mountain to attend the roll-out of a new Wildfire Protection Plan developed specifically for our community.

Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will also be on hand to learn about the plan and answer all questions from the public.

It took almost a year to put this plan together, with a grant from the BLM to our local Mt. Pinos Fire Safe Council.

The plan will be presented by Tim Walsh at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Frazier Mountain Park Community Center. Mr. Walsh is the principal analyst for HangFire Environmental, the consulting firm that prepared the plan in cooperation with our county and federal fire agencies.

Mr. Walsh will give us all an overview of this plan customized to protect the Mountain Communities and entertain your questions. Officials from Kern County Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department, the US

It is more important than ever now, considering the record-setting 2006 fire season which our communities survived.

The Mt. Pinos Communities’ CWPP is a comprehensive document, about 180 pages in length. The plan was kicked off last spring when a survey was sent to 1,000 local residents, 95 of whom responded with answers to a questionnaire covering knowledge and attitudes about fire safety.

The CWPP contains an analysis of those responses.

The study area includes over 200,000 acres incorporating the communities of Lebec, Digier Canyon, Los Padres Estates, Frazier Park, Lake of the Woods, Cuddy Valley, Pinon Pines Estates, Pine Mountain, Lockwood Valley and Camp Scheideck. Mr. Walsh performed a detailed analysis of each community.

He considered vegetation, weather patterns and infrastructure as they affect fire safety.

The CWPP concludes with recommendations based on Mr. Walsh’s detailed analysis and his 23 years of fire fighting experience.

He outlines fuels projects, infrastructure improvement and emergency planning which could save lives and property when future wildfires strike our communities. While the menu of recommendations is nonbinding, having projects listed in a CWPP is important to successfully compete for funding from many grant sources.

For the first time, a single comprehensive document has brought into one place an easily-understood account of the natural factors, the community actions, agency activities and potential projects which affect wildfire safety in our communities.

Making our communities significantly safer against wildfire will require the collective efforts of individuals, communities, and agencies.

Actions by one group without the others will not be effective. The CWPP outlines how all our efforts can work together.

See you there Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:00 p.m. at the Frazier Mountain Park Community Center.

This is part of the January 12, 2007 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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