When the Three Rivers Fire Safe Council was organized two years ago, the elephant in the room was how would unincorporated Three Rivers possibly pay for such an ambitious agenda of projects? Elizabeth LaMar, a regional director with the California Fire Safe Council and a Three Rivers resident, was confident as she addressed the preliminary FSC meeting.
“The money is out there,” she said. “We just have to compete with the dozens of other councils in the state and successfully process the proposals.”
Those prophetic words have recently been ringing true with regularity. The Three Rivers Fire Safe Council applied for two CAL FIRE California Climate Investment grants. Both were awarded.
The first is a grant of $79,000 to create a Community Wide Protection Plan (CWPP). This requires a registered forester to complete a survey and risk assessment of Three Rivers and Kaweah.
The survey will include mapping, native plant and riparian habitat identification, environmental and archaeological review, and a risk assessment. The CWPP will also identify priorities for wildfire mitigation and prevention projects, as well as produce concise evacuation and shelter-in-place protocols. In addition, the plan will identify environmental, archaeological, and biological areas that require state and federal clearance before any work can be done.
A second grant of $37,000 is for education and outreach. This project will focus on residential properties, including specific treatment of vacation rentals.
Community signage, mailers, educational materials, defensible space, home-hardening surveys, and training sessions are all covered under this award. Additionally, there will be in-person home evaluations, workshops with guest speakers, and an annual wildfire preparedness event.
For vacation rentals, welcome packets, postcard-sized magnets, and posters will be available explaining extreme fire danger and burning restrictions. For property owners and managers, this will also include call-before-burning advisories and more fire safe information.
The CAL FIRE grants are in addition to a $1,600 donation from the Three Rivers Woman’s Club for the local Council’s Fire Corps team, $22,000 for the Lions Club/3RFSC chipper, $6,000 for education and outreach, and a yet-to-be-announced additional corporate grant of $5,000 from Southern California Edison.
When the COVID-19 crisis has ended, there will still be fire danger in Three Rivers. But because of being a community with its own fire safe council, Three Rivers will be well on the road to becoming a fire-adapted community.