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Ring net debris protection will be going in soon in Montecito

The plan to install ring nets in the creeks and mountain drainages that are prone to debris flows in Montecito and Carpinteria is about to move forward.

Organizers from The Partnership for Resilient Communities, a non-profit group thanked their supporters at an outside luncheon in the Upper Village of Montecito. They have about $4-million towards a $5-million project and are asking for more donations of any level to reach their goal.

The ring nets are designed to let sediment and silt go through and out to the ocean but old back large boulders and debris that could be life threatening or damaging to homes.

In the January 9, 2018 mudflow 23 lives were lost and hundreds of properties were impacted either directly or indirectly. Highway 101 was shut down for 12 days and the economic blow to the Central Coast businesses, tax flow and tourism was one of the most devastating events in the county’s history.

“We believe we’re still at risk. Our experts believe we are still at risk,” said Pat McElroy who is a member of the group and a former Santa Barbara City Fire Chief. “Our goal is to get all of the five canyons impacted by the debris flow, to get some type of mitigation and we feel we will be successful there.”

He says the county has been involved every step of the way with a review of the project proposal and permit requirements. He also says the Public Works department continues to clear debris basins regularly.

“We knew that their band width was stretched. We knew that was an area where we could make a difference,” he said.

Joe Cole, a 40 year Montecito resident, attorney and member of the group says, “these work all over the world they are all over Switzerland, they are in other countries. Our contractors are putting in 10 right now right below the Carr fire zone in Northern California.”

The effort in Montecito is unique in many ways and being watched by groups worldwide. “We are the first private group that ever built these nets. And we are the first group of any kind that’s built them in an environmentally sensitive habitat.”

Nearby Los Angeles and Ventura Counties have requested information on the process.

“We’ve identified sites, we’ve done the biological work we got the permits we have done the engineering, we really essentially provide a shovel ready project for somebody,” said McElroy.

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