Humboldt County Community Wildfire Protection Plan Available for Public Review
This is a press release from the County of Humboldt:
Eureka, CA – Humboldt County’s draft update of its strategic plan for how to prepare for wildfire becomes available [Friday] for public review and comment until September 28, 2018, via the County website. The current Humboldt County Community Wildfire Protection Plan—or “CWPP”— is an updated version of the county’s ongoing collaborative planning efforts to prepare and mitigate for the inevitability of wildfire—a naturally occurring element of our ecosystem.
The Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (HCFSC), the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs’ Association, CAL FIRE, and Six Rivers National Forest encourage residents and all interested parties to review this document both for their own safety and for any contributions they may have to the identification of hazards, ideas for fire prevention and education, comments on evacuation possibilities, and anything else related to being better prepared for the eventuality of fire in one’s community or adjacent wildland.
With catastrophic wildfires raging throughout northern California, many in Humboldt County are wondering if and when such fires will ignite here, and if so, what we would do. Others—especially around the Humboldt Bay area—assume such disasters are unlikely to happen near the coast with our cool and relatively moist local climate. Unfortunately, our fire history shows that fires have and will continue to burn in all parts of Humboldt County. It is important to remember that no place is immune to fire and every fire has the potential to spark a large conflagration.
Each year, there is a window of high fire risk for every Humboldt County community when conditions are just right —usually when that warm wind comes from the east— for a single fire ignition to have potentially devastating consequences. Firefighters worry about the perfect storm of high fire danger during the wildfire season when local and state firefighting resources are committed to other incidents. A wildfire ignition during one of these periods could spread quickly, threatening citizens’ lives as well as homes, schools, and businesses. The CWPP aims to discourage complacency and to educate people in various ways about living with fire on a local scale and reducing its negative impacts. The plan also provides context and helps coordinate countywide actions for hazardous fuel reduction and wildfire preparedness. It is intended to inspire and guide actions to mitigate wildfire losses in all vulnerable communities within Humboldt County and to help communities become more adapted to a wildfire environment.
The plan will guide the actions of the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council and its collaborators over the next five years. The Countywide Action Plan includes actions for Fire Prevention, Wildfire Preparedness, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Protection, Restoration of Beneficial Fire, and Integrated Planning. Fourteen Planning Unit Action Plans are under development in collaboration with local stakeholders and will soon be available. These plans are tailored to each of the county’s 14 planning units and identify specific local actions residents can take to prepare their community for wildfire.
“I’m enthusiastic about the release of this CWPP. I think once again Humboldt County will be leading the state—perhaps even the nation—in how we are creatively addressing wildfire using a variety of approaches. This has been an inspiring process over the last year to develop this Action Plan with the Fire Safe Council and its partners, and documenting what we can do to be proactive here in Humboldt. Now we need to find the resources and public support to implement the plan,” stated Tracy Katelman, a Registered Professional Forester with ForEverGreen Forestry who was hired to assist with the CWPP update.
CWPPs are a vehicle for communities to identify priority actions intended to mitigate damage from wildfires and enhance overall fire safety on both private and public lands. The Humboldt County CWPP process involved extensive collaboration between organized groups of residents, as well as local, state, and federal agencies. This draft of the CWPP update was produced under the guidance of the HCFSC by the Humboldt County Natural Resources Planning Division with consulting support from ForEverGreen Forestry. This process was funded by CAL FIRE’s State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund and Title III of the Secure Rural Schools Act.
Many Humboldt County residents live in what is referred to as the Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI, where homes are intermixed in an environment with high potential for wildfire. Here, fire preparedness is critical. Fire prevention activities such as creating defensible space, fire-hardening homes, and building fire-adapted landscapes, should be incorporated into home maintenance routines and family emergency plans. The locally produced magazine Living with Wildfire in Northwestern California contains useful information about preparing your home and property to survive wildfire, and much more.
For more information, email Cybelle Immitt or call (707) 267-9542.