A Steering Group of six persons from the County and Federal Resource Conservation agencies, two from CALFIRE and two from the timber industry took the lead in developing this update of our Plan.
A Planning Collaborative representing a broad range of interests provided overall direction for this Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). Its members included persons in leadership positions with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D), Mendocino County Office of Emergency Services, Mendocino County Air Quality Management District, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, the county’s largest timber landowners, local fire agencies and the general public gave input to the plan.
THE CWPP AND CAL FIRE UNIT PLAN AS ONE DOCUMENT
As the membership of the Steering Group suggests, creation of this Community Wildfire Protection Plan was primarily a cooperative effort of the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council and CAL FIRE’s Mendocino Unit, with input from local government fire departments and engaged citizens. The Plan should be a blending of the CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit Wildfire Management Plan with further information gained and processed as needed to meet the requirements of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
Reasons for this decision were: (1) The boundaries of Mendocino County and the Mendocino Unit are nearly the same. (2) The CAL FIRE Unit has already amassed much of the data needed.
The Handbook for Wildland-Urban Interface Communities entitled “Preparing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan,” in its Step Five, lists five risk factors to be considered in the creation of a Community Risk Assessment: fuel hazards; risk of wildfire occurrence; homes, businesses, and essential infrastructure at risk; other community values at risk; and local preparedness and firefighting capability. Data collection and presentation of all these factors was a joint effort of CAL FIRE and MCFSC.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH MEETINGS: GAINING COLLABORATION AND INFORMATION
The 2015 update of the Mendocino County CWPP was begun with the support of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and with the support of CAL FIRE and local fire chiefs. We formed a Steering Group which included staff from CAL FIRE, local and federal resource agencies (National Resource Conservation Service and Mendocino County Resource Conservation District) and landowners.
Our outreach efforts included a workshop presented to the Fire Chiefs Association for the purposes of defining and mapping both risk areas and the location of priority projects. That work was then presented to the citizens through a series of public outreach meetings conducted in Anderson Valley, Westport, Laytonville, Willits, Fort Bragg, the south coast at Elk and the Ukiah Valley in order to discover local concerns and projects. We also provided a questionnaire, distributed in hard copy at meetings and available on MCFSC’s website to gather input from those who could not attend the meeting or who wished to give subsequent input.
The minimum requirements for a CWPP as described in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 are (1) Collaboration, (2) Prioritized Fuel Reduction, and (3) Treatment of Structural Ignitability — plus the agreement and sign-off of local government, local fire departments, and the state entity responsible for forest management, which in this case is CAL FIRE.