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Wildfire prevention plan presented to county leaders

A wildfire prevention plan for Santa Barbara County has been presented to the Board of Supervisors and there are options to large prescribed burns.

Fire Battalion Chief Rob Hazard went through a multi page report showing some of the largest fires in history, where they were located, and where the highest risk zones were identified.

The plan is to keep fire starts small – under ten acres. After that the prevention goal is to keep fires away from populated areas.

Some of the danger ones were identified as Burton Mesa, Tepusquet, Gaviota and upper San Roque and Goleta foothills.

The massive Thomas Fire last December was considered a wake up call about the impact of fires over a large area.

The reality of climate changes was also in the discussion. “Our first duty is to adapt and adjust” said Supervisor Joan Hartmann who said she has seen the change in the average temperatures. Hartmann also spoke of noticing the dead or diseased trees on the back side of Cachuma Lake.

The Los Padres Forestwatch organization spoke with caution about prescribed burns to destroy brush without more scientific evidence.

COLAB spokesman Andy Caldwell said those who are standing in the way of efforts to reduce the thick brush near housing were hindering progress in fire prevention. He said, “the coastal sage is killing us, literally.”

The plan was given support. “T he political will is there,” said Supervisor Das Williams. “Let’s get it done. Just do it.”

They also encouraged the fire officials to collaborate with other agencies and neighborhood groups on prevention plans in zones where they overlap.

Many organizations were on hand to speak and observe the presentation including the Mission Canyon Association, The Fire Safe Council, The Eucalyptus Hill Homeowners Association, the Painted Cave Volunteer Fire Department, and the Wildland Residents Association.

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