Central Coast Preferred Burn Association receives Cal Fire grant – Monterey Herald
SANTA CRUZ – The Central Coast Preferred Burn Association has received more than $ 705,000 from Cal Fire to continue its work to reduce the risk of forest fires in the Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties areas.
This is the agency’s second investment to support the group, which aims to increase the frequency and scale of prescribed burns in the three counties, as well as increase the number of people highly qualified to start planned fires. .
These types of fires are carefully lit, heavily managed and controlled. Prescribed burning is used to reduce the build-up of unhealthy vegetation, decrease the risk of forest fires and, in many cases, renew landscapes and encourage the growth of native plants.
The grant represents approximately double the agency’s initial investment in the group.
The funds will help the Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association reach and work with more landowners interested in using fire to manage their land, said Devii Rao, livestock and natural resources advisor in the Agriculture Division. and Natural Resources from the University of California.
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“We see many forest fires that impact many people … houses are destroyed, people breathe horrible air for weeks and the more carefully and planned prescribed burns we can carry out, the less. To. these extreme fires that we are going to have, ”said Rao. “Prescribed burn associations are one of the tools we can use to have a safer community. “
The group was born out of a collaboration between UC Cooperative Extension San Benito County and the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County. So far, the association has conducted a prescribed burn at the Watsonville Slough Farm, owned by the Santa Cruz County Land Trust.
State funds will finance the group’s planning and lighting of four burns from 2022 to 2024, as well as the development of 10 prescribed burn plans with local landowners.
Two of these future fires will take place in Monterey County. One will be lit in the Santa Cruz area and another in the San Benito County.
The grant will also fund apprenticeship positions within the association for members of the Amah Mutsun tribal band as well as members of the Esselen tribe.
“What we’re going to be able to do with this grant is not just more prescribed burns and training for community members, but we are going to increase the number of prescribed burn leaders there,” Rao said. .
The Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association is also planning to deepen awareness, by hosting home building and defensible space workshops.
With the new funding, the group will also intensify its work with the Spanish-speaking community in the Monterey Bay area, purchase additional materials and tools, and increase its membership.
“We are really excited, this will give us more capacity to develop a good fire culture in the Central Coast region,” said Jared Childress, the association’s burn coordinator.