LATEST Newsletter

May 22, 2024

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
Late May 2024
News in West CountyMay 29, 5:30-7:30PM – Don’t Be Sacred, Be Prepared – West County Fire & Emergency / Public Safety Town HallSonoma County Woody Utilization Planning Project Seeks Public InputNewsom announces Wildfire Preparedness Week 2024Wildfire Evacuation VideoUC Davis Health Effects of Wildfire SurveyUpcoming EventsCommunity News
Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared! 
West County Fire & Emergency / Public Safety Town Hall

May 29 – 5:30 to 7:30PM
 
As we enter fire season, take time to learn all the ways you can improve yours and your family’s safety.

We are joining Supervisor Hopkins on Wednesday evening, May 29, at Guerneville School to bring vital emergency preparedness to West County. Some of the groups you will learn from include:
 Safer West CountySonoma County Fire, Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, WiConduit / GMRS Radio Operators, West County Health Centers, Environmental Justice & Safety Elements of the General Plan Update), Permit Sonoma (to provide input on policy concepts being considered for the the Environmental Justice & Safety Elements of the General Plan Update),Watch Duty and more!Snacks and childcare will be provided. 
 
   
Sonoma County
Woody Utilization Planning Project
Seeks Public Input

A feasibility study is underway in Sonoma County to assess the economic and ecological viability of managing the flow of woody material from our forests to support forest treatment activities. The study has just opened a public comment period and is looking for feedback on potential activities that include the creation of an entity to manage this work, recovery of woody material, transport and processing it into wood products, soil amendments and more. If you have thoughts on this work, the Sonoma County Woody Feedstock Pilot Project would like to hear from you. 

The public comment period is open until October 1, 2024 via the 5 – 10 minute survey that can be found here. More information on the pilot can be found on Regenerative Forest Solution’s website.   
     
Newsom announces
Wildfire Preparedness Week 2024

Did you know that Governor Newsom declared May 5th – 11th Wildfire Preparedness Week? You can read the entire proclamation here; and, importantly, he pointed out the importance of two key things:Working collaboratively with your neighbors and community organizationsCreating defensible space and home hardening

“This year’s Wildfire Preparedness Week theme, meeting the mission through partnerships, emphasizes the importance of collaboration and collective responsibility in reducing and managing wildfire risk. Californians can make their neighborhoods safer by creating defensible space around homes, hardening homes, developing wildfire action plans and teaming up to join Fire Safe Councils and Firewise Communities, which work to regularly assess wildfire risk and prioritize action to address it.”Safer West County’s mission is to create resilience through connection. We encourage you to join with your neighbors and get involved because each of our homes is only as safe as the land surrounding us. If you aren’t already connected to your local Fire Safe or Fire Wise organization, contact us and we will connect you: info@SaferWestCounty.org

And remember, Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and Occidental residents can apply for $1000 rebates towards defensible space work and receive free chipping. Go to https://saferwestcounty.org/grants/ to learn more.

 
Wildfire EvacuationIf you missed it in our last newsletter, please watch this evacuation video to learn important information on evacuating safely.
 
UC Davis Health Effects of Wildfire Survey
Researchers at the University of California are interested in learning about residents’ experiences and unmet needs during the California wildfires. If you were residing in California at a time before a wildfire broke out in a county affected by the fire or its smoke, we invite you to take the survey.
 Take the survey
  
Upcoming EventsRio Fest in Monte Rio on June 15Monte Rio BBQ Jul 6Guerneville evacuation drill: It’s on Sunday June the 23rd and it’s for the Guernewood Park neighborhoodOccidental Neighborhood #1 will host its next meeting on June 9th. Stay tuned for details. 
Community News 
Occidental
Fire Safe Occidental’s Neighborhood 16 had 30+ people attend their local area meeting last Sunday. Here is a sampling of topics they covered that you might want to have a similar neighborhood gathering to discuss:Growing a GMRS networkBecoming a FireWise neighborhoodSafer West County’s Defensible Space Rebate (for Occidental, Camp Meeker, Monte Rio, and Forestville residents)Free chipping program (Sonoma County or Safer West County’s Fire Department run program for Occidental, Camp Meeker, Monte Rio, and Forestville residents)Possible community projects for group workdaysUse of Safer West County’s Free toolbox to equip volunteers on workdaysIf you have questions about any of these programs, email info@saferwestcounty.org, and we will get you in touch with someone who can help. 
 
Rio Nido update Rio Nido had its first Firewise Community Cleanup Day, organized by Anne McInerney.  The activities included a group cleanup project, assisted by Ryan Osborne from the Sonoma County Fire District, that successfully cleared an overgrown and dangerous intersection that was also a significant ground cover fire hazard.  Recology donated their largest Compost Bin, and residents had filled it by the end of the day. Fire Safe Sonoma made the Listos Tool Trailer available, which was widely used; and Anne also organized opportunities for residents to utilize the County’s Chipping Program, and created the maps for the County to organize the work—many of our residents made good use of this opportunity. BIG THANKS to Fire Safe Sonoma for the use of, and delivery/pick-up of the Listos Tool Trailer; Recology for the donation of the compost bin; Arielle at the County Chipping Program; Ryan Osborne from SCFD for his guidance on vegetation management; Brandon Hart from the county’s Integrated Waste Division, who waived tipping fees for our residents; and to all the volunteers here in Rio Nido who helped make this happen.

Anne was also responsible for Rio Nido being officially Firewise Certified this month, which included a certificate all Rio Nidans can now use to hopefully get discounts on their homeowners insurance, and/or help in keeping their insurance in place.  If you would like to contact Anne with any questions, she can be reached at rionidofirewise@gmail.com
 

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Safer West County Monthly Meetings
Safer West County’s Board and leaders from our various community organizations meet via ZOOM on the first Tuesday of each month. Join us.

Next meeting: Look for it on June 4th at 4PM by ZOOM
 
We appreciate your support in time and monetary contributions.
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CONTACT US
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465

saferwestcounty.org
info@saferwestcounty.org

May 6, 2024

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
May 2024
 News in West CountyLearn life-saving info from this video on how to evacuateDoes Home Hardening Work?Local businesses making commitments to a safer West CountyHome Hardening and Defensible Space Before & After Photo ContestWildfire Preparedness Month town hallUC Davis Health Affects of Wildfire SurveyCorrection to Insurance Information in last newsletterUpcoming EventsCommunity NewsLearn life-saving info from this video
on how to evacuate
by Mark Brown
 Mark Brown is a Sonoma County resident working for the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority.  Everyone should watch this at least once. And join your neighbors to work on your driveways and local evacuation routes—removing vegetation near the roads making your exit safer.

For neighborhoods with only one official way out, this month would be a great time to drive the alternative/secondary egress routes you don’t normally drive to ensure you’re familiar with the alternate route. Watch on YouTube
    “Does Home Hardening Work?:
A Closer Look at the Lahaina “Miracle” House”
webinar recording now available

How many of us have wondered whether making changes to our structures and landscaping will actually reduce wildfire risk?  

Learn about the science behind mitigating wildfire exposures to homes and businesses with Safer West County Board Member and Madronus Wildfire Defense CEO, Ivan O’Neill, using the famous Lahaina “Miracle” House as a case study (spoiler: nothing miraculous about it!).  

Finally, Ivan answers audience questions about home hardening and provides practical advice.
 Watch on YouTube
 And, if you missed our recent webinar about how to create defensible space that not only improves your home’s fire resilience but also can be really beautiful, you can watch the replay:   Resilient Landscaping
      Local businesses making commitments to a safer West County
Big thanks to our many donors and, most recently, the generous donations from local companies who have supported our Bohemian Collaborative events for large parcel owners.

The Gonnella’s and the Union Hotel, have fed our group of 45+ people at all four meetings over the past year. We have had the luxury of enjoying local wines from Kistler Vineyards supplying wine at three meetings, Furthermore Vineyards at our January meeting, and at this recent 4/14 meeting we enjoyed wine from Boheme

The Bohemian Collaborative is a Safer West County group of large parcel owners representing over 15,000 acres surrounding our local communities. They are working collectively to reduce fire risk and improve forest and watershed health in our area. We have held meetings with over 45 people each time, hosted by Alliance RedwoodsBohemia Preserve (LandPaths & Will and Julie Parish), OAEC, and recently Green Valley Farm & Mill.

Please support these local businesses as they help us create a more resilient West County.
 Home Hardening and Defensible Space Before & After Photo ContestIn recognition of May being Wildfire Preparedness Month, FireSAFE SONOMA announced their DIY Wildfire Defense Photo Contest! We’re calling all homeowners to showcase their DIY home hardening and defensible space projects. SEE MORE HERE    Kicking off Wildfire Preparedness Month
with an important town hall
 May is National Wildfire Preparedness Month and California is gearing up and getting ready as the start of summer is just around the corner.

To prepare, Senator Mike McQuire is hosting a critical Town Hall on Wildfire Preparedness and Preventionthis Wednesday, May 8th at 6:30pm.

The State has invested mightily over the past several years making the Golden State more fire safe. California has significantly beefed up firefighting resources in every corner of the State, hiring thousands of additional CalFire firefighters and advanced record funding for vegetation management, dead and dying tree removal and creating new fire breaks around communities. That said, there’s much more work to do.

We hope you can join this important Town Hall with CalFire Chief Joe Tyler to hear the latest updates and, of course, we’ll be taking your questions and comments.

Here are the Town Hall details:

What: Town Hall on Wildfire Preparedness and Prevention

When: Join us live online on Wednesday, May 8th at 6:30pm. 

RSVP and ask a question for the Town Hall presenters by clicking here!

How to attend: Watch the Town Hall live here: https://sd02.senate.ca.gov/videosUC Davis Health Effects of Wildfire Survey
Researchers at the University of California are interested in learning about residents’ experiences and unmet needs during the California wildfires. If you were residing in California at a time before a wildfire broke out in a county affected by the fire or its smoke, we invite you to take the survey.
 Take the survey
 Correction to Insurance Information in last newsletter
As it turns out the only community-level mitigation discount currently offered by The California Fair Plan is the Fire Wise Discount. This discount is available for all properties that are part of a  Firewise USA Community in good standing. Safer West County is encouraging each of our members to work together to become Fire Wise Communities. The Harrison Grade neighborhood in Fire Safe Occidental and Hacienda and 
Hollydale/Canyon/Terrace communities in Forestville, have done this work and are now certified Fire Wise communities.  You can learn more about what it takes from Fire Safe Sonoma here.

In addition to the Fire Wise Discount, the Fair Plan also offers Wildfire Hardening Discounts. 
 There are two Wildfire Hardening discounts available: one for Protecting the Structure, and another for Protecting the Immediate Surroundings of the dwelling. When applied, these discounts will reduce the wildfire portion of the policy’s premium by 10% and 5%, respectively. These discounts can be obtained separately or together; policyholders do not need to qualify for one discount to qualify for the other. If a policyholder is eligible for both discounts, the total discount will be approximately 14.5% because the second discount is applied to the wildfire premium after the first discount is applied. In order to qualify for these discounts, the insured property must meet the following qualifications.
 
For the Wildfire Hardening – Protecting the Structure Discount, the property must meet ALL of the following qualifications:
• The dwelling must have a Class-A Fire Rated Roof (meaning composition shingle, stone, concrete or clay tile, or metal)
• 6 inches at the bottom of all exterior walls must be made of non-combustible material
• Vents must be ember and fire resistant (wire mesh covering)
• Windows must be double paned
• Eaves must be enclosed
 
For the Wildfire Hardening – Protecting the Immediate Surroundings Discount, the property must meet ALL of the following qualifications:
• Vegetation and debris must be cleared from under decks
• There must be an ember resistant zone maintained within five feet of the home
• There must be no combustible sheds or outbuildings within 30 feet of the dwelling
• Defensible space must be maintained including trimming trees, clearing of brush, and removing debris from yard (including trimming trees, removal of brush and debris from yard, in compliance with California Public Resources Code 4291)
 
The Fire Wise Discount can be added at the time you apply for coverage, or midterm to an existing policy.  All policies requesting the Firewise Discount will be checked against the current Firewise Community Database https://www.nfpa.org/education-and-research/wildfire/firewise-usa/firewise-usa-sites . 
 
The Wildfire Hardening Discount can only be added to an existing policy at this time.  To request either discount, contact your broker.  Please note, all policies which receive the Wildfire Hardening Discounts will be inspected to confirm their eligibility and the discount(s) may be removed if the inspection reveals the property does not qualify.
 Upcoming EventsRio Fest in Monte Rio on June 15Monte Rio BBQ Jul 6Guerneville evacuation drill: It’s on Sunday June the 23rd and it’s for the Guernewood Park neighborhoodOccidental Neighborhood #1 will host its next meeting on June 9th. Stay tuned for details. Big congratulations to Occidental Neighborhood #9 who had a great turn-out for their meeting last week. Many thanks to Ann Hamilton and Art Hsieh who are the co-Leaders. If you have a GMRS radio and haven’t had it reprogrammed, please contact carolynsell@gmail.com. We are currently checking in every Tuesday at 7pm.Community News Community access Wi-Fi
Great news for community WiFi in Jenner and Monte Rio.  Wi-Fi is now up and working in Jenner at the Jenner Community Center and in Monte Rio at the Fire Station on Main Street. The server on both is named “EQAC” (equal access). No password is needed, and it is solar powered with a battery backup to help the community in an emergency. 
 Camp Meeker News:
Next time you are driving Bohemian Highway through Camp Meeker, take a few minutes to pull off and admire the work the Fire Safe Camp Meeker volunteers have done by the fire department and Post Office!

Two years ago, working with Americorp volunteers, they cleared the embankment by the post office and exposed a culvert that long time residents had never seen. This year they have cleared a beautiful rock formation that residents of 40+ years had never seen. 
 
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 Subscribe to Safer West County Newsletter      Safer West County Monthly Meetings
Safer West County’s Board and leaders from our various community organizations meet via ZOOM on the first Tuesday of each month. Join us.

Next meeting: Look for it on May 7th
 

April 9, 2024

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
April 2024
News in West CountySafer West County Wins Award for Best Emergency Preparedness Service In Sonoma
 April 23 Safer West County 6:30-8pm zoom 
Defensible Space made beautiful webinar
 April 18th Outlook for Fire Season 2:00pm zoom
 GMRS radio network is growing!
 Congratulations to SWC Community Leaders
 Homeowner’s Insurance 101
 Who wants $1000?
 Community NewsSafer West County Wins Award
for
Best Emergency Preparedness Service


In Sonoma County in the Bohemian   Safer West County  & the Resilient Landscape Coalition
Defensible Space made beautiful
virtual webinar

April 23 6:30-8pm
 Register here: https://tinyurl.com/3wfnxnyd
Learn how to create and maintain a fire-wise, sustainable garden that supports biodiversity while meeting County code requirements. We can help you with plant selection, placement, and maintenance, to preserve and even enhance wildlife habitat, while keeping your property and neighborhood fire-wise and sustainable.

The Resilient Landscapes Coalition is a partnership of Fire Safe Sonoma, the Sonoma Ecology Center, The UC Master Gardeners of Sonoma County and The Habitat Corridor Project. 
 Outlook for Fire Season
 Hear Calfire Chief Ben Nichols give us his outlook for fire season at Fire Safe Sonoma’s Speaker Series on April 18th at 2 pm.   Register here
 GMRS radio network is growing!On Sunday, March 10th, 61 West County residents met in Occidental for another round of training on GMRS radios and to get their radios reprogrammed. Safer West County received a grant from the County District 5 to install repeaters in key locations and purchase 100 radios to create a network across the area, giving neighborhoods connections with others in the case of emergency, when power is off and cell phones and WiFi go down. If you would like to be part of this important and growing emergency communication network, please contact https://www.wiconduit.org/radio for details. 

Participants must be members of their local Fire Safe, Fire Wise, or other community resiliency organization and part of Safer West County’s email list, plus attend regular networking tests to keep our communications network operable.    Congratulations to Community Leaders
 Congratulations to Carolyn Sell, SWC Board member, active member of Fire Safe Occidental, and neighborhood organizer for her area of Harrison Grade. She received the Fire Safe Sonoma award for outstanding leadership in Sonoma County last Saturday at the FSS Leadership Council.  

Also awarded for her consistent efforts in the Hacienda area was Sarah Yardley. Sarah gave a great presentation on her work along with all the information needed for any community to organize an effective neighborhood work day which can be found on the Fire Safe Sonoma website. Sarah has tirelessly committed to organizing community chipping days in her area for years.
    Homeowner’s Insurance 101 Safer West County hosted insurance meetings over the past few months (one in Occidental and then one in Monte Rio) to help residents understand the current insurance landscape and give homeowners practical information to help keep or secure insurance.  Some key takeaways from both meetings were:If you have insurance today, don’t start shopping for a better plan and switch carriers. This is not the time to try and find cheaper insurance. Keep what you have and fly under the radar.
 If you are on the California Fair Plan, shop around every 3-6 months as you never know when an insurance company may have room in your area to write new policy. Carriers with many policies in one region often reduce the risk in that area by decreasing policies; however, another carrier with fewer policies in your area might pick you up.
 Each home has an insurance risk score. To find your score, go to the website Riskfactor.com, type in your address and you should see your flood and Fire score for that property. If your insurance company uses a risk model to determine eligibility or rates, they must share it with you before each renewal, after an initial application, and before non-renewal.  Feel free to ask your agent for yours.
 If you have completed mitigation work (for example, defensible space work) on your property since your last application or renewal, your insurer is required to provide you with an updated wildfire risk score or classification no later than 30 days.
 Insurance carriers will likely soon be required to give discounts or at least keep you renewed based on work you do to make your home more fire-resilient. Visit saferwestcounty.org/risk-mitigation to learn about what and how to do this. If you live in Monte Rio, Forestville, Camp Meeker, or Occidental, you are eligible for a $1000 rebate on defensible space work to help you get started. Go to SaferWestCounty.org/grants to learn more.
 While the CA Insurance Commission helps regulate the industry, our government cannot force companies to write policies. They are working with the industry to make sure the insurance carriers are financially sustainable in the light of climate change while making sure homeowners can both be insured and afford insurance. It is a delicate balance.
 CA FAIR Plan policyholders can get up 4.0% off the wildfire portion of their premium simply for living in Sonoma County, which is a Board of Forestry designated Fire Risk Reduction Community. Additional premium discounts up to a maximum 16% are available for mitigation actions like defensible space, home hardening, and being part of a Firewise USA Community. Contact your insurance agent/broker to request the latest Attestation Form to get your discount.
 California is pushing for all insurance carriers to recognize Firewise USA Communities when writing policies as being more fire resilient, and homeowners in those communities being more active at improving their home’s space. Safer West County is promoting neighborhoods to become Firewise USA Communities and Fire Safe Sonoma is helping each group with the steps. For more information on how to become a Firewise neighborhood go to https://www.firesafesonoma.org/sonoma-county-firewise-communities/.   Who wants $1000?
 The cost of improving our home’s fire resiliency can be daunting. Safer West County has a Calfire grant to help residents of Monte Rio, Forestville, Camp Meeker, or Occidental pay for Defensible Space work around their homes, and we are sending checks for 2/3s the cost of what is paid to a contractor (up to $1000) for defensible space work. Applicants need to have a recent assessment (this can be free), photos of the area to be improved, and submit applications at SaferWestCounty.org/grants. We even have a generous grant from Sonoma County to help residents who cannot afford their $500 contribution (⅓) to apply for a scholarship to cover that portion of the work.

To help you apply, Safer West County and each of the Fire Safe organizations in these four communities are having local Defensible Space Rebate program meetings at your local fire station where you will get assistance with the application and learn more about what types of projects to tackle. Here are the dates and times at each location:

Camp MeekerApril 18th from 6-8 pm (location announced soon)

OccidentalApril 25th from 5-7 pm (at the Occidental Fire Station)

Forestville and Monte Rio coming soon!


 Community News Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and
Occidental residents

The chipping program through our local Fire Departments is still going strong; however, you may experience some delays because wet foliage clogs the chippers and prevents them from functioning. If you have applied for chipping, it will happen but there may be weather-related scheduling issues.

Sign up here for:Free chipping$1000 rebate program
 Occidental News:
Harrison Grade Road is having a Barn Sale on May 5th, 10-3. There will be multiple vendors and three locations. Spring cleaning from all of our households. Clothes, tools, dishes, pet toys, art, etc. Come one, come all! (Take Harrison Grade and watch for directions).
 Camp Meeker News:
Next time you are driving Bohemian Highway through Camp Meeker, take a few minutes to pull off and admire the work the Fire Safe Camp Meeker volunteers have done by the fire department and Post Office!

Two years ago, working with Americorp volunteers, they cleared the embankment by the post office and exposed a culvert that long time residents had never seen. This year they have cleared a beautiful rock formation that residents of 40+ years had never seen. 
 
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 Subscribe to Safer West County Newsletter      Safer West County Monthly Meetings
Safer West County’s Board and leaders from our various community organizations meet via ZOOM on the first Tuesday of each month. Join us.

Next meeting: Look for it on May 7th
 

March 6, 2024

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
March 2024
News in West CountyMar 8 – Pile Burning Workshop – Friday, March 8, 2024 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm in Occidental, CA
 Chile’s deadly wildfires wiped out neighborhoods. One stood unscathed.
 Fire Use Around the World: Purposes, Principles, Policies, and Practices
 West County Homeowners Insurance Seminar
 Mar 16 – Sonoma County Auxiliary Communication Service (ACS) & Sonoma County Neighborhood Communication Service (NACS) Announcement of Interoperability exercise 
 Neighborhood NewsPile Burning Workshop
Friday, March 8, 2024
9:00 am to 12:30 pm
Occidental, CA

    Chile’s deadly wildfires wiped out neighborhoods
One stood unscathed

A Chilean community of 80 or so houses somehow emerged unscathed from what has been called the deadliest fires in Chilean history. It  has generatedviral social media posts and headlines of disbelief and awe.

Read the excellent Washington Post article here.
 Fire Use Around the World: Purposes, Principles, Policies, and Practices
The California Fire Science Consortium has provided an excellent webinar series on fire use here. You can also find past webinars, like the excellent Preparing for the “big one”: prescribed fire as a strategic fuel reduction tool.
 West County Homeowners Insurance Seminar
 This recent Feb 17 seminar had lots of great content about homeowners insurance. Here is a link that tells you how to find the information.
 West County Homeowners Insurance Seminar
 Sonoma County Auxiliary
Communication Service (ACS) &
Sonoma County Neighborhood Communication Service (NACS)
Announcement of Interoperability exercise

March 19, 2024 – 9AM
This exercise helps bridge the gap between neighborhood resiliency groups and local government agencies and NGOs for support. Communication will be two-way, using GMRS and Ham radio, sending information from EOC to neighborhood groups, or for example sending a ‘911’ message to the EOC such as calling for police action, obtaining beds and medical supplies.

Find out more here
 
West County Community News
Occidental

GMRS Radios

Fire Safe Occidental has approximately 25 more GMRS radios to distribute. Our next training date is Sunday, March 10 at noon, Salmon Creek School cafeteria. If you are interested in joining your Neighborhood group as part of the GMRS communications program, please plan to join us.


Fire Safe Occidental Social

Fire Safe Occidental will be having a social gathering. We are hoping for representation from all our neighborhoods!
     · at the Union Hotel Ballroom
     · on Sunday, March 17th
     · from 3 – 6 pm.  

In addition to enjoying each other’s company, we will also discuss:
     · How to access grant money for neighborhoods from the SWC rebate program
     · What is the neighborhood leader’s role? How might a neighborhood share the role of multiple people?
     · Get input on priorities for FSO in the coming year

Please extend the invitation to new neighbors and new Occidental residents so that we can grow our community and our leadership.

Please RSVP to Elizabeth Lawson by email so we know you are attending and, if you already know a few people you will invite, how many people you will bring, so we can give the Union Hotel an approximate idea of the numbers.  And don’t let the RSVP stop you from inviting one more person later!  
 Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and
Occidental residents

The chipping program through our local Fire Departments is still going strong; however, you may experience some delays because wet foliage clogs the chippers and prevents them from functioning. If you have applied for chipping, it will happen but there may be weather-related scheduling issues.

Sign up here for:Free chipping$1000 rebate program
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February 2, 2024

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
February 2024
News in West CountyFeb 17 – Home Insurance in California: Sustainable Insurance Strategy (SIS) program and Update on Safer from Wildfires (SFW) – Saturday February 17 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Monte Rio Community Center
 AT&T Asking CPUC To Take Your “Land Line” Phone Service Away
 Mar 8 – Pile Burning Workshop – Friday, March 8, 2024 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm in Occidental, CA
 Federal grants to low- and moderate-income homeowners whose residence is located in Sonoma County and affected by 2020 disasters
 The Last Fire Season: A Personal and Pyronatural History by Manjula Martin
 Neighborhood NewsHome Insurance in California:
Sustainable Insurance Strategy (SIS) program and
Update on Safer from Wildfires (SFW)


Saturday February 17
11:30 am to 1:00 pm

at the Monte Rio Community Center
If you missed the meeting in Occidental last fall, West County residents have another opportunity to learn from representatives of both the CA State Insurance Commissioner’s office and United Policyholders (a non-profit consumer advocacy group) on the state of homeowners insurance in our area and things we can do to best protect our insurance policies.  The presentations will also discuss how to navigate obtaining insurance in today’s marketplace, IBHS Mitigation Standards for fire safety and available discounts, and insights on filing insurance claims. 

There will be plenty of time for Q&A, so please join us for a lively conversation…
 AT&T Asking CPUC To Take Your “Land Line” Phone Service Away
AT&T has submitted an application to the CPUC to be removed as the “Carrier of Last Resort” for much of California. This could affect the future of landline and Voice over Internet access and support for our area. Given the challenges of communications in our region and the need for reliable back up systems, removing landlines as a last resort leaves us even more vulnerable in emergencies.
 Look here for the Notice of Pending Regulatory Application
We strongly oppose the AT&T request and ask that each household, whether you are an AT&T customer or not, contact the CPUC to oppose this proposal in writing to:
 
   CPUC Public Advisor’s Office
   505 Van Ness Ave. 
   San Francisco, CA 94102

Reference Application 23-03-003 on the envelope and in your letter

You can also submit your public comment on the application at: apps.cpuc.ca.gov/c/A2303003
 
The CPUC will also hold two public hearings. One in February and one in March. The details on this application are in the attached letter from AT&T at  http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/pph.
 Pile Burning Workshop

Friday, March 8, 2024
9:00 am to 12:30 pm
Occidental, CA

    Are You Affected by the 2020 Wildfires
 This Program provides federal grants to low- and moderate-income homeowners whose residence is located in an eligible county affected by the 2020 disastrous wildfires.
    The Last Fire Season: A Personal and Pyronatural History
by Manjula Martin

In 2020, when a dry lightning storm ignited hundreds of simultaneous wildfires across the West and kicked off the worst fire season on record, Martin, along with thousands of other Californians, evacuated her home in the midst of a pandemic.

Both a love letter to the forests of the West and an interrogation of the colonialist practices that led to their current dilemma, The Last Fire Season, follows her from the oaky hills of Sonoma County to the redwood forests of coastal Santa Cruz, to the pines and peaks of the Sierra Nevada, as she seeks shelter, bears witness to the devastation, and tries to better understand fire’s role in the ecology of the West.
    
Neighborhood News
Occidental

OCSD Neighborhood #1 will have its next meeting on Saturday, Feb. 10, 4 pm, to be held at 3335 Harrison Grade Rd. We will discuss the Year 2 goals for our Fire Wise commitment. Please plan to attend if you live on Harrison Grade Rd., Harrison Grade Place, Tanuda, Heather Lane, or Facendini! Contact Carolyn Sell at carolynsell@gmail.com if you have any questions.
 Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and
Occidental residents
Sign up here for:Free chipping$1000 rebate programIf you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:
Forward to a Friend
 Subscribe to Safer West County NewsletterSee our most recent Newsletters here
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Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAYIf you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 
Stay safe and keep in touch. Safer West County is always looking for people who can get involved, or ideas you may have about how we can best serve our community.

Let us know by emailing us.
 Copyright © 2024 Safer West County & FireSafe Groups, All rights reserved.
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Safer West County

saferwestcounty.org/
info@saferwestcounty.org


Our mailing address is:
Safer West County & FireSafe GroupsPO Box 1132Occidental, CA 95465

January 12, 2024

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
January 2024
 News in West County2024 Looking ForwardUpcoming Events Safer West County & Local Community
2024 Looking Forward

Safer West County and local organization volunteers have continued to work hard for you and our communities. Below are just a few of the ways together helped build a more resilient West County. We hope you will join us in 2024. There are so many ways to get involved, depending on your interest.

HOW MIGHT YOU CONTRIBUTE IN 2024?


Get involved in your neighborhood:Host a neighborhood potluck.Gather your neighborhood’s contact info in case of emergency.Organize a neighborhood work party to clear dead and dying debris from the side of your street to make an evacuations safer. Help post flyers in your area when there is an upcoming event.Organize a GMRS network in your neighborhood.Apply to become a Fire Wise NeighborhoodAnd of course, you can always donate to Safer West County to help us continue our work.
Get involved in your local community:

Safer West County is made up of multiple community-level organizations. Each organization works on projects in their own community based on that area’s priorities. Then at SWC we share resources and ideas making it easier to create real impact. Our communities include:Bodega/Bodega BayCamp MeekerCazaderoForestvilleFreestoneGratonGreen ValleyGuernevilleHaciendaMonte RioOccidentalRio NidoPocket CanyonWest Sebastopol Contact info@saferwestcounty.org if you want help connecting with your community organization or don’t see yours and want to start one.


Get involved in topic related work across all communities:

SWC also has people and small sub-committees working on a variety of topics you might enjoy contributing to:Emergency Preparedness (including creating GMRS radio networks across West County), Wildfire Prevention, Grant writing and grant management, Educational Events, Educational Materials (virtual/online and print material), we even have a subcommittee called the Bohemian Collaborative (a group of property owners with greater than 50 acres who are helping create healthier forests and watersheds surrounding our communities). 
If you have an interest in these, or another topic related to community resiliency, we would love for you to join our efforts.
 Upcoming Events:Jan 20th – Bohemian Collaborative of large parcel owners (50+ acres) at OAEC (contact us to learn more)
 Russian River Insurance 101 meeting with CA State Commissioner’s Office, United Policy Holders and Fire Safe Sonoma (discussing Fire Wise)
 Fire Safe Occidental Neighborhood #1 has a work-day scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 13. First drive on the left, Heather Lane. Three huge pine trees fell a year ago and we will help clean up the vegetation debris and create firewood. Many thanks to Ishi Woods of Duncans Mills who offered to help Mr. Weitz with this project. Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and
Occidental residents
Sign up here for:Free chipping$1000 rebate programIf you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:
Forward to a Friend
 Subscribe to Safer West County NewsletterSee our most recent Newsletters here
 While not required, we ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50.

We appreciate any and all contributions of any size.

Donations contribute to our expenses such as web hosting, bulk email services, and similar expenses.

Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAYIf you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 
Stay safe and keep in touch. Safer West County is always looking for people who can get involved, or ideas you may have about how we can best serve our community.

Let us know by emailing us.
 Copyright © 2024 Safer West County & FireSafe Groups, All rights reserved.

November 18, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
Late November 2023
 News in West County11/28 – Giving Tuesday, consider SWC11/19 – Free GMRS radios & training Sun11/30 – Does Home Hardening Work12/4 – Rio Nido Firewise meeting12/9 – LandSmart Grazing ProgramBurning debris – Quick Info11/30 – Want input on Sonoma County road work?Giving Tuesday is Novmber 28th
Tuesday, November 28th is “Giving Tuesday.” In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Safer West County wants to thank all the official and unofficial volunteers who are the backbone of our organization, and each community organization that is working hard at building resilience and for you, the people who make living here great. 

We hope you find our work helpful to you personally and to the specific area you live in. We are happy to report that Fire Safe organizations are growing in West Sonoma County!

Please consider a donation to help fund Safer West County’s volunteer efforts and if possible consider getting involved in your local Fire Safe Council. Your donation helps us buy tools for community work days, apply for and orchestrate grants, host our website, and hold webinars.

Also, please consider helping as a volunteer. Your time could be the difference in Safer West County’s continued success at improving our collective resiliency. We will be tracking volunteer hours in 2023 to serve as matching for grant applications. Your work could help us bring important educational material to our community, or improve our alert systems.

Whatever your finances, skills, and passions, there is a place for you to contribute to a safer and more connected West County. 

Donations can be made either to Safer West County itself or on behalf of your local Fire Safe Council. Simply make a notation on your donation, and we will be sure it is allocated as you prefer.

Thanks for being WEST COUNTY!
 
Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465

 DONATE!
You can donate now for Giving TuesdayWhat is Giving Tuesday? 
Giving Tuesday is a global movement that aims to encourage people to spread generosity through philanthropy.

Giving Tuesday takes place every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Many organizations, companies, non-profits, and individuals donate money to participate in this recognized day. It is common to see brands and companies launch giving campaigns as a way to showcase their mission and increase brand image.

Ultimately, the day serves as a reminder for people to give back in whatever amount, form, or act of kindness they can.
 Free GMRS radios and training
Sunday, November 19th  from noon – 2 pm

Next Sunday 11/19/23 12 noon – 2 pm, Safer West County and Fire Safe Occidental are sponsoring a GMRS training presented by WiConduit at the Occidental Community Center, and the first 100 households that RSVP and attend receive a FREE per-programmed GMRS radio purchased through a grant from Supervisor Hopkins and District 5.

Recipients must commit to obtaining a GMRS FCC license ($35 for a 10 year license) and agree to regular use in an Occidental GMRS network group.

Let’s make sure every neighborhood has backup communications! 
 
RSVP HereRSVP Here

Find out about WiConduit here Does Home Hardening Work?
Webinar on November 30th, 7-8:30 pm

 Home hardening is an important tool to help make your property more resilient. Plan to attend this upcoming webinar to learn why some homes survive and how you can increase your own home’s survivability in the event of a wildfire in your area.

Signup for this Free Webinar here hereRio Nido FireWise Kick off Meeting!
Monday, December 4th at 6:30 pm

Join us for the Rio Nido FireWise Kick-off Meeting at The Rio Nido Lodge (also held via zoom) on Monday, December 4th at 6:30 pm.  This event offers an opportunity to learn about fire safety and prevention in our community through the FireWise program.  Participation in the FireWise Program could offer savings on your homeowner’s fire insurance.  

The NFPA FireWise program was designed to help people learn about wildfire and how they can make their homes and neighborhoods safer.  It is based on research that shows how to prepare homes to withstand embers and prevent flames or surface fire from igniting the home and its immediate surroundings.  

A recognized FireWise Neighborhood can apply for grant funding to help offset some of the expenses of home hardening and vegetation mitigation.  Membership may help you qualify for insurance and many companies provide a discount on your premiun for recognized FireWise neighborhoods.  

Learn how to reduce wildfire risk for your home and your neighbors through participation in the commmunity wildfire risk assessment and neighborhood work parties.  

This is the only meeting we will be hosting for the kick-off.

Thanks!

Anne McInerney –  Firewise@rionido.net

 LandSmart Grazing Program
Gold Ridge and Sonoma RCDs have opened their LandSmart Grazing Program designed to reduce fuel loading.

The program provides participants a list of contract grazers and pays land participants to contract with the grazer. The program can assist in planning a grazing project and helping to assess the need of temporary infrastructure, such as electric fencing or portable livestock water.

Priorities are multi-property projects and areas of high fire risk–especially if there is a close proximity to at-risk, densely populated, or underserved communities. The deadline to apply for LandSmart® Grazing is Friday, December, 8th.

More information is available on our website here:
 https://goldridgercd.org/work-with-us/#toggle-id-1
A recorded webinar on the program is available here:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7G7DKH1fBY
Here is a link to the application, which should take less than 30 minutes to complete:
 
 https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScSBvzNW9ga9OObkGwaYYTJiRWH8dWN0zgX9m5JWNEQQ0Na5A/viewform
       Burning Debris Quick Info
It is time when many of you will begin burning piles of debris. Please make sure you have a current 2023-2024 burn permit, and that you call before you burn. And remember, Occidental, Camp Meeker, Monte Rio, and Forestville residents have free chipping service. Apply for chipping here.
 
Sonoma County fire practitioners have created a very helpful and comprehensive “Burn Pile Guide” for 2023-2024 in which you can find links to permits, important phone numbers to call on the day of the burn, and a comprehensive list of best practices for building effective piles, weather markers to watch, and tips for extinguishing piles in dry weather. 

Please forward this link to your neighbors and community groups that you think might find this useful.
 https://sonomaforests.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Burn-Pile-Guide-23-24.pdf What input on where we have bike lanes and more?
Survey closes November 30th

SCTA is currently creating a Sonoma County Active Transportation Plan (ATP)–“human-powered” modes of travel, like walking, biking, or using mobility devices.

The ATP will focus on increasing access to active transportation modes by planning for infrastructure projects and supportive programs.

The planning team needs your input to identify needs, barriers, and opportunities here!
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a Friend
  While not required, we ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50.

We appreciate any and all contributions of any size.

Donations contribute to our expenses such as web hosting, bulk email services, and similar expenses.

Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAY

November 12. 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
November 12, 2023
 Free GMRS radios and training
Sunday, November 19th  from noon – 2 pm

Next Sunday 11/19/23 12 noon – 2 pm, Safer West County and Fire Safe Occidental are sponsoring a GMRS training presented by WiConduit at the Occidental Community Center, and the first 100 households that RSVP and attend receive a FREE per-programmed GMRS radio purchased through a grant from Supervisor Hopkins and District 5.

Recipients must commit to obtaining a GMRS FCC license ($35 for a 10 year license) and agree to regular use in an Occidental GMRS network group.

Let’s make sure every neighborhood has backup communications! 
 RSVP Here
   RSVP Here

Find out about WiConduit here
 Rio Nido FireWise Kick off Meeting!
Monday, December 4th at 6:30 pm

 
Join us for the Rio Nido FireWise Kick-off Meeting at The Rio Nido Lodge (also held via zoom) on Monday, December 4th at 6:30 pm.  This event offers an opportunity to learn about fire safety and prevention in our community through the FireWise program.  Participation in the FireWise Program could offer savings on your homeowner’s fire insurance.  

The NFPA FireWise program was designed to help people learn about wildfire and how they can make their homes and neighborhoods safer.  It is based on research that shows how to prepare homes to withstand embers and prevent flames or surface fire from igniting the home and its immediate surroundings.  

A recognized FireWise Neighborhood can apply for grant funding to help offset some of the expenses of home hardening and vegetation mitigation.  Membership may help you qualify for insurance and many companies provide a discount on your premiun for recognized FireWise neighborhoods.  

Learn how to reduce wildfire risk for your home and your neighbors through participation in the commmunity wildfire risk assessment and neighborhood work parties.  

This is the only meeting we will be hosting for the kick-off.

Thanks!

Anne McInerney –  Firewise@rionido.net

 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a Friend
 If you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 

Novenber 5, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter Update
November 5, 2023
Homeowner’s Insurance 101
The Current Landscape

If you are like most of us, watching large insurance companies leave California’s homeowner’s insurance market due to our fire risk is nerve-wracking.

Safer West County is providing a series of meetings across our area, the first of which is in the Occidental area on November 8th, @7PM, at Harmony/Salmon Creek School. We will review the State’s current insurance strategy, hear guidance on your homeowner’s insurance policy, and get valuable tools about Fire Wise neighborhoods to help you protect your home and insurance.

NOTE: This same event will be held later this fall in both Monte Rio and Forestville to serve the northern part of West County.
   And some news related to this hot topic!

As insurance companies raise rates, deny policies, or even pull out of California, many people are turning to the CA FAIR Plan and they started receiving around 1,000 applications a day. 

Even the FAIR plan rates are going up by around 15%, varying by wildfire exposure of the property. And they are offering discounts to people for taking steps to harden their homes.

You can learn more about home hardening at https://saferwestcounty.org/risk-mitigation/ and the full article about FAIR is here:
 California Insurance Crisis: ‘Insurer of Last Resort’ Gets ‘Astronomical’ 1,000 Applications a Day
Another resource for information is to watch:
 First Street Foundation’s 9th National Report: The Insurance Issue 
Safer West County continues to help residents learn about defensible space, especially the first 5 feet around your home called Zone Zero. Now there are possible CA Board of Forestry Codes to require adherence to a Zone Zero plan on all new construction.

Below is the article about this. But why wait for government codes? Learn more about defensible space and Zone Zero on our website https://saferwestcounty.org/risk-mitigation/.
 With wildfires growing, California writes new rules on where to plant shrubs
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a Friend
 If you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 While not required, we ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50.

We appreciate any and all contributions of any size.

Donations contribute to our expenses such as web hosting, bulk email services, and similar expenses.

Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAY

October 31, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
November 2023
 News in West CountyState of CA Homeowner’s InsuranceRoad ClosuresDefensible Space RebatesFire Safe Sonoma Speaker Series!Special GMRS Event coming soonYour Local Community News & EventsThe State of CA Homeowner’s Insurance
If you are like most of us, watching large insurance companies leave California’s homeowner’s insurance market due to our fire risk is nerve-wracking.

Safer West County is providing a series of meetings across our area, the first of which is in Occidental on Nov 8th at Salmon Creek School. We will review the State’s current insurance strategy, hear guidance on your homeowner’s insurance policy, and get valuable tools about Fire Wise neighborhoods to help you protect your home and insurance.
NOTE: This same event will be held later this fall in both Monte Rio and Forestville to serve the northern part of West County.
   
     WHAT: Homeowner’s Insurance 101 –  The Current Landscape 
     WHEN: Wednesday, November 8th, 7 pm
     WHERE: Harmony / Salmon Creek School

  Presenters: Durriya Syed, California Department of Insurance Outreach AnalystAnnie Barbour, United Policyholders CoordinatorFire Safe Sonoma – Fire Wise CommunitiesAnd some news related to this hot topic!

As insurance companies raise rates, deny policies, or even pull out of California, many people are turning to the CA FAIR Plan and they started receiving around 1,000 applications a day. 

Even the FAIR plan rates are going up by around 15%, varying by wildfire exposure of the property. And they are offering discounts to people for taking steps to harden their homes.

You can learn more about home hardening at https://saferwestcounty.org/risk-mitigation/ and the full article about FAIR is here:
 California Insurance Crisis: ‘Insurer of Last Resort’ Gets ‘Astronomical’ 1,000 Applications a Day
Another resource for information is to watch:
 First Street Foundation’s 9th National Report: The Insurance Issue 
Safer West County continues to help residents learn about defensible space, especially the first 5 feet around your home called Zone Zero. Now there are possible CA Board of Forestry Codes to require adherence to a Zone Zero plan on all new construction.

Below is the article about this. But why wait for government codes? Learn more about defensible space and Zone Zero on our website https://saferwestcounty.org/risk-mitigation/.
 With wildfires growing, California writes new rules on where to plant shrubs
 Road Closures
 The county provides regular road closure updates on the link below for those of us lucky enough to have our local roads being improved.
 https://roadclosures-sonomacounty.hub.arcgis.com/
  Defensible Space Rebates
Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and Occidental residents can now apply for defensible space rebates of up to $1,000. To learn more about this program please visit our website grant page.

And remember, any debris created by this or other defensible space work is eligible for free chipping from your local fire department. Apply for chipping from the same website grant page.
  Fire Safe Sonoma
Speaker Series!
Fire Safe Sonoma offers a monthly virtual speaker series you may be interested in attending. This month they had Dr. Nancy Brown cover the changes in Sonoma County’s emergency management system since 2017. Topics included alert and warning, new emergency operations standards, preparedness programs, and more. Listen to the recording here.

You can register here for the November Speaker Series! event. It will be coming up on November 16. This will be the last Speaker Series! of the year.

Here are the other Speaker Series recordings from this year so far!January 2023 – CAL FIRE Forestry Fire Pilot, Justin WickFebruary 2023 – Registered Professional Forester, Jason WellsMarch 2023 – Wildfire Resilience Support FrameworkApril 2023 – CAL FIRE Wildland Fire Seasonal OutlookMay 2023 – OAEC’s Brock Dolman: “Fuels to Flows”June 2023 – Caerleon Safford of Permit SonomaJuly 2023 – Arborist Merlin SchlumbergerAugust 2023 – Durriya Syed of the CA Dept of InsuranceSeptember 2023 – Mike Wilson of the CA Fire Safe Council

October 7, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
October 2023
 News in West CountySWC taking applications for Defensible Space $1000 RebatesAmazing work using FREE chipping program.Increased fire risk weather — are you prepared?Oct 12th — PGE presentation at LRRMAC meetingSpecial GMRS radio distribution & trainingOct 22nd — Final Session of the Resilient Forest SeriesOct 22nd — Meeting of Bohemian Corridor Large Parcel Owner GroupCal Fire establishes defensible space & home hardening training programYour Local Community News & Events $1000 Defensible Space Rebatesfor residents of Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and Occidental Safer West County, in partnership with Fire Safe Sonoma, received a Calfire grant that includes the free chipping many of you are already using and also up to $1000 rebates for defensible space work.

Applications are now open for people to apply for these rebates to assist in improving their home’s resilience to fire. You can learn more information about qualifications and how to apply at: SaferWestCounty.org/grants
 Amazing work by residents and firefighters
in Occidental, Camp Meeker, and Monte Rio
Local residents of these areas have been hard at work improving their lands’ fire resiliency by limbing and trimming around their homes, and their local firefighters have been chipping the resulting debris for free using the new chippers purchased from the Calfire grant awarded Safer West County and Fire Safe Sonoma.

In just a few short months, this grant and your local firefighters have:
·      Served 160 requests for chipping
·      Chipped over 250 piles

To apply for FREE CHIPPING please go here for the application.
 Increased fire risk weather — are you prepared?
1. Prepare yourself: pack a go-bag, identify what and where your important items are that you will take in an evacuation, know where your alternative evacuation routes are, and have your evacuation zone on your refrigerator or another place easy to find. You can find out more about go-bags, evacuations, and links to sign up for alerts at saferwestcounty.org/you.

2. Prepare your household: agree to a meeting place if you evacuate from different locations, practice what needs to be done if you evacuate (closing windows, turning off propane, etc.), and talk about it beforehand, not just if it happens. You will find practical ideas at saferwestcounty.org/your-home-and-family

3. Prepare your home & land: Look for ways to improve your home’s ability to survive a fire and make it easier for firefighters to defend. Move flammable firewood and other material away from your house, cut back tree and shrub limbs that overhang your roof, and clean out your rain gutters. You will find more ways to improve your home’s resiliency here saferwestcounty.org/risk-mitigation.

While we all hope we won’t experience a wildfire, our best tactic for decreasing the anxiety the idea can create is to take action to reduce our risks and be prepared.

Safer West County will continue to add resources to our website, apply for grants, and educate our community to help you and your family stay safe. In the meantime, it is up to us individually to connect with our neighbors because, in an emergency, the most resilient communities will be those that work together. If you want to connect with your local fire-safe organization, email us at SaferWestCounty@gmail.com.

Another great resource was recently published by the Chronicle that will give you lots of ideas on how to prepare for fire season.2023 fire survival guide.pdf
 Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council
5:30- 7:00 PM, October 12
Monte Rio Elementary School Gym
20700 Foothill Drive
Monte Rio
In Person or by Zoom

 This will be of interest to Safer West County residents as the major agenda item will be a presentation by PG&E, discussing unplanned power outages, EPSS events, veg management, emergencies, and more.You can find additional information here 
 Special GMRS Event coming soon
Thanks to Mike Nicholls, newest member of the Safer West County Board, for initiating the next phase of the GMRS radio grant that we received from the County. The radios have been ordered, received, and programmed.

There will be a 1.5-hour distribution, training, and licensing procedure meeting for radio recipients – within the next 30 days. If you are interested in being part of your community’s GMRS network, contact us at info@saferwestcounty.org

Stay tuned for the announcement.
 Final Session of the
Resilient Forest Series
 Our friends at Resilient Forest Series and Green Valley Farm + Mill are hosting a Resilient Forest Series and the last date is October 22nd. It is intended for forest landowners, managers, and those interested in restoring our forest ecosystems.

You will hear from expert speakers, tour the forest, make connections between forest health and watershed health, see a milling demo, learn more about regional infrastructure, and work together on planning and practices to bring about greater forest health. We hope that you’ll join us!

It is limited to 30 attendees and costs $25.  Register here
 Bohemian Collaborative of Large Parcel Owners
A group of large parcel owners between Green Valley on the east, Monte Rio on the north, and Freestone on the south all the way to the coast has begun a collaboration to steward the beautiful forests and watersheds surrounding our West County communities.

If you own a parcel of 50 acres or more and want to get involved in this stewardship effort, please get in touch with us at info@saferwestcounty.org. Our next group meeting is Oct 22nd.
 Cal Fire expanding who can do
home hardening and defensible space assessments

Calfire is initiating training of people outside their organization to help expand the ease with which we can have our properties assessed.  Assessments help us understand our highest risks and how to reduce them—empowering us to make our homes more fire-resilient, which is critical if we elect to live in a WUI area (Wildland Urban Interface). Read more details on their training program and who is eligible here.
 Your Local Community News & Events
Occidental
Occidental Building the Future – This is the last week to give your input for Occidental’s Community Action survey that will help shape the next decade in Occidental. Topics include the Community Center, roads, and governance, and we need your input. There is also a community meeting on Oct 11th at the Community Center TIME where you can learn more about this effort and give your input. Learn more here.

Next FSO Leaders and Steering Committee meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 17th at a NEW TIME, 7 pm. We are hoping this will allow more folks to attend. We are still looking for Leaders for Neighborhoods #4, 5, 10, 11 and 12!! Please contact us if you are interested at carolynsell@gmail.com.

Sonoma County has informed us that there will be paving work requiring road closure due to narrow road width on Joy Rd scheduled for Oct 9-11, from 8am to 5pm.

Neighborhood #1 has a meeting this Sunday, Oct. 8th, at 3 pm at the property of John and Pauline Loades (we’ve been there before–5502 Graton Rd.). Topics include our Fire Wise requirements to complete before the end of the year; GMRS radios; evacuation plans; the Community Council survey; and the rebate program now rolling out (part of the Cal Fire grant).

Neighborhood #3 is meeting on Sunday, Oct. 29th, at 3 pm at the home of Asmara Marek, 7117 Stoetz Lane. The agenda will focus on a One Call Now test, GMRS radios, the requirements and option of becoming a Fire Wise Community; and the money available via the Cal Fire rebate program for defensible space work.
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a Friend
 If you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 While not required, we ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50.

We appreciate any and all contributions of any size.

Donations contribute to our expenses such as web hosting, bulk email services, and similar expenses.

Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAY

October 2, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Special Alert
October 4 2023
 Special Federal Level Alert
Greetings, (from Skip Jirrels, City of Sebastopol Public Safety Outreach Coordinator)

Underlines below are my highlights:

The federal government said it will conduct on Wednesday afternoon a nationwide test of its Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. The EAS portion of the test will send an emergency alert to all radios and televisions, while the WEA portion of the test will direct alerts to all consumer cell phones.

“The purpose of the Oct. 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is conducting the test in coordination with the Federal Communication Commission, said in a statement.

Here’s what to know.

How does this impact me?

Beginning at approximately 2:20 pm ET (11:20 am PT) this Wednesday (4 October), all wireless phones should receive an alert and an accompanying text message that reads: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The free text message will be sent in either English or Spanish, depending on the language settings of your device. The text will be accompanied by a unique tone and vibration that is meant to make the alert accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, FEMA said.

The test will be broadcast by cell towers for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:20 pm ET, FEMA said. During this time, all compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless providers participate in WEA tests should receive the text message.

Meanwhile, all radios and televisions will also broadcast a test emergency alert at the same time as part of the broader test. This message, which will run for approximately one minute, will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

As the agency has said, no action is required by youafter you receive the emergency alert test on your phone or hear it through the radio or TV.

*************
Keep in mind these are federal level systems being tested, not county. There are a few caveats as to why you might not hear the alerts. Your phone may have a setting that impacts such alerts. Or your service provider might not participate in WEA test (larger providers are more likely to participate than small ones). Do check it out on Wednesday at 2:20…all tv’s and radios and cell phones at one time. Damn.

Be safe,
Skip

Skip Jirrels
City of Sebastopol
Public Safety Outreach Coordinator
707 799 2204
SebastopolReady.org
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a Friend
 If you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 While not required, we ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50.

We appreciate any and all contributions of any size.

Donations contribute to our expenses such as web hosting, bulk email services, and similar expenses.

Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAY

August 23, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
Late August 2023
News in West CountyWest Sonoma County Town Hall with Senator Mike McGuire – Aug 24Your Local Community News & EventsThe Ins and Outs of Structural Hardening: What Insurers are Looking forCA FAIR to Offer Wildfire Mitigation DiscountsNews from Listos
Save the Date! August 24, 5:30 – 7:30West Sonoma County Town Hall
with Senator Mike McGuire

hosted by the Lower Russian River and Sonoma Coast Municipal Advisory Councils.


Insurance will be one of the topics discussed
 
Your Local Community News & Events
Occidental

August 27th: Pod and Neighborhood Leaders’ Meeting, 2-4:40PM at the lower CYO campground.

September 12th: St. Philip’s is hosting an AED/CPR class at 11 a.m. on Sept. 12th. The class will be 1 to 1.5 hours. If anybody is interested, please let Cathy McCool know as they need a headcount prior to the class (cmccool318@hotmail.com). There is no charge but St. Philip’s is requesting a donation.
 
The Ins and Outs of Structural Hardening:
What Insurers are Looking for
COPE (Northern Sonoma County Communities Organized to Prepare for Emergencies) has released this great video by Ivan O’Neill of Madronus Widfire Defense on “The Ins and Outs of Structural Hardening”: Here
 
CA FAIR Plan to offer wildfire mitigation discounts
 This is one of the first rate plans to be approved under the CA Dept of Insurance’s new wildfire risk rating and mitigation discounts policy.  All admitted carriers in CA will soon be offering discounts ranging from 3-30% subject to receiving rate plan approval. More info here.
 
News from Listos
Given September is Emergency Preparedness month, Listos California would like to provide you the tools and resources ahead of time for you to use. There’s no better time than now to make sure you are prepared and ready to play a part in helping your community stay safe. See the newsletter here

August 9, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
August 2023
News in West CountyAs we head into fire season, prepare in three important waysChipping updateParks lead the wayUpcoming Resilient Forest SeriesYour Local Community News & EventsWest Sonoma County Town Hall with Senator Mike McGuire – Aug 24News from the CountyCalfire partners with UC and AI to improve alertsAs we head into fire season, residents of West County must prepare in three important ways1. Prepare yourself: pack a go-bag, identify what and where your important items are that you will take in an evacuation, know where your alternative evacuation routes are, and have your evacuation zone on your refrigerator or another place easy to find. You can find out more about go-bags, evacuations, and links to sign up for alerts at saferwestcounty.org/you.
 2. Prepare your household: agree to a meeting place if you evacuate from different locations, practice what needs to be done if you evacuate (closing windows, turning off propane, etc.), and talk about it beforehand, not just if it happens. You will find practical ideas at saferwestcounty.org/your-home-and-family
 3. Prepare your home & land: Look for ways to improve your home’s ability to survive a fire and make it easier for firefighters to defend. Move flammable firewood and other material away from your house, cut back tree and shrub limbs that overhang your roof, and clean out your rain gutters. You will find more ways to improve your home’s resiliency here saferwestcounty.org/risk-mitigation.
 While we all hope we won’t experience a wildfire, our best tactic for decreasing the anxiety the idea can create is to take action to reduce our risks and be prepared.

Safer West County will continue to add resources to our website, apply for grants, and educate our community to help you and your family stay safe. In the meantime, it is up to us individually to connect with our neighbors because, in an emergency, the most resilient communities will be those that work together. If you want to connect with your local fire-safe organization, email us at SaferWestCounty@gmail.com.
 Another great resource was recently published by the Chronicle that will give you lots of ideas on how to prepare for fire season.2023 fire survival guide.pdf
 Chipping Update for West County
There are many ways to get free chipping, making it easier and more cost-effective to continue improving your home’s fire resiliency!Sonoma County’s free chipping program is again open to residents throughout West County.  Residents can apply for the program up to three times each year. To apply, please go here.
 Forestville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, and Occidental residents also have access to free chipping through their local Fire Departments from a Safer West County Calfire grant. Note that this program depends on firefighter availability, as their first priority is responding to emergency calls. As we enter fire season, they will be less likely to travel far from the station, so they have quicker response times. The County will be helping Occidental’s fire department complete existing piles and any new applications that come in through August 17th, the last week of August. To apply go to www.saferwestcounty.org/grants

Occidental Fire will resume chipping after the end of fire season. Please apply for chipping through the County programs between August 17 and then.
 Community chipping days. Fire Safe Occidental coordinates community chipping for the County if you live within the OCSD boundaries.  The deadline to apply for the next Occidental chipping days is also August 17th. Piles must follow County guidelines as in the past. Sign-up by emailing David Shatkin (dshatkin@sonic.net),or contact David if you have any questions.
 Parks continue to lead the way toward a safer West County! “If you have walked Willow Creek lately, you know that CA State Parks has been doing amazing clean up along their roads and trails, making West County a little bit more resilient! Thanks, CA State Parks!”Elizabeth LawsonSonoma County Regional Parks is inviting you to get involved in their Sonoma County Parks Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan here.Regional Parks has more than 50 parks and beaches from Petaluma to Gualala and Sonoma to Bodega Bay. They also manage the county’s largest ocean marina and largest extracurricular environmental education center.
 Resilient Forest Series
Our friends at Resilient Forest Series and Green Valley Farm + Mill are hosting a Resilient Forest Series this fall. The series is intended for forest landowners, managers, and those interested in restoring our forest ecosystems.

During the series, you will hear from expert speakers, tour the forest, make connections between forest health and watershed health, see a milling demo, learn more about regional infrastructure, and work together on planning and practices to bring about greater forest health. We hope that you’ll join us!

Each date is limited to 30 attendees and costs $25.  Register here
 Your Local Community News & Events
Occidental

August 13th: Neighborhood #8 (Bohemian Hwy south of town) is meeting at the CYO camp, 3:30 pm (follow signs). Residents in this area, please plan to attend and to meet Noah, our new co-Leader who works at the camp.

August 27th: Pod and Neighborhood Leaders’ Meeting, time and place TBD. Watch for an announcement.

September 12th: St. Philip’s is hosting an AED/CPR class at 11 a.m. on Sept. 12th. The class will be 1 to 1.5 hours. If anybody is interested, please let Cathy McCool know as they need a headcount prior to the class (cmccool318@hotmail.com). There is no charge but St. Philip’s is requesting a donation.
 Save the Date! August 24, 5:30 – 7:30West Sonoma County Town Hall
with Senator Mike McGuire

hosted by the Lower Russian River and Sonoma Coast Municipal Advisory Councils.


Insurance will be one of the topics discussed
 News from the County
A panel of fire and emergency leaders told the Board of Supervisors last month that an unusually wet winter and chilly spring are delaying the onset of conditions that fuel explosive fires.
“This is not the time for us to breathe a sigh of relief and expect that we will have a low-key fire season,” Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls told the board. “It just gives us roughly a month extra of time to prepare.”
Fire and emergency response agencies are taking advantage of the extra time, using prescribed burns to reduce fire fuels in key areas, conducting emergency alert and evacuation exercises, training staff, and meeting weekly to prepare for potential threats. (Click here to view a video of the 26-minute presentationCalfire partners with UC and AI to improve alerts
 CAL FIRE and University of California San Diego’s ALERTCalifornia Program Join Forces to Enhance Wildfire Response with Artificial Intelligence Implementation Trial. See the full News Release here.
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a Friend
 If you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 While not required, we ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50.

We appreciate any and all contributions of any size.

Donations contribute to our expenses such as web hosting, bulk email services, and similar expenses.

Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAY

August 4, 2023

Occidental Community Council CAP Survey
August 4, 2023
 
Greetings! The Occidental Community Council is on a mission to improve life for everyone in our town. We’ve formed a Community Action Planning (CAP) committee that focuses on enhancing the downtown area to meet local needs. We want your input to identify priorities and find volunteers for action.

In our first CAP meeting, we collected valuable insights from a diverse group of representatives, including businesses, schools, non-profits, residents, and county parks. Based on surveys and community input, we’ve outlined NINE (9) high-priority initiatives and created three (3) sub-committee groups.

Please help us by taking this important survey and sharing it with anyone who loves Occidental. Our goal is to ensure we’re focusing on the right priorities and find dedicated volunteers to contribute ideas, time, donations, or support.

Together, let’s shape the future of Occidental and create a stronger, more vibrant community. Your participation matters!
 Survey Link_________________________________________

July 23, 2023

Safer West County
Special Announcement
July 23, 2023
The Ins and Outs of Structural Hardening: What Insurers are Looking for Join COPE on July 27th at 5PM for a free webinar It’s harder and harder to get insurance! What can a homeowner do? In this webinar learn about: The 5 most important interventions to make your home more ember resistant and programs available to help. Practical information will be presented and ample time will be provided for discussion.
REGISTER HERESave the Date! August 24, 5:30 – 7:30West Sonoma County Town Hall
with Senator Mike McGuire

hosted by the Lower Russian River and Sonoma Coast Municipal Advisory Councils.


Insurance will be one of the topics discussed
 

July 7, 2023

Safer West County
Special Announcement
July 6, 2023

July 6, 2023

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
July 2023
News in West CountyHas Occidental ever burned?—Major Fires That Have Burned in the Occidental AreaThere’s a lot going on this month in West County!July 15th – Atascadero-Green Valley Watershed Gathering, Saturday from 10 AM-NoonJuly 16th – Occidental Volunteer Fire Dept. Annual BBQ, Noon-6PMJuly 29th – Watch Duty Annual Fundraiser, Saturday from 5PM-9PMFree Chipping continues for Forestville/Camp Meeker/Occidental/Monte RioHas Occidental ever burned?
Major Fires That Have Burned
in the Occidental Area
___
This poster was created and donated by members of the
Salmon Creek Watershed Council

 There’s a lot going on this month in West County!Atascadero-Green Valley Watershed Gathering
July 15th
Saturday from 10 AM-Noon

______________________Occidental Volunteer Fire Dept.
Annual BBQ
July 16
Sunday, Noon-6PM
Watch Duty Wine Country Fundraiser
July 29
Saturday, 5PM-9PM

_____________Watch Duty is a citizen-driven wildfire alert app (free to all) that provides real-time intelligence about wildfires and firefighting efforts. Our staff and technology’s immediacy and accuracy has been embraced by citizens and fire chiefs alike, alleviating stress and trauma for fire-affected residents of California and the American West.This year’s event will be set in a picturesque vineyard a short distance from Healdsburg Plaza at Orsi Family Vineyards. We will be featuring their beautiful Italian wines grown in Sonoma as well as local food truck favorites from 6-8 PM:Los Plebes Taco Truck
(staple of Lytton Springs exit)Cajun Connect Truck
(former head chef of the Parish Cafe)
Please come and enjoy a beautiful evening connecting with your community, firefighters, and many of the Watch Duty staff. We look forward to seeing you and sharing what’s next for Watch Duty! Get Tickets HERE
 Free Chipping continues for Forestville/Camp Meeker/Occidental/Monte Rio
______________________
Free Chipper Request Link

Camp Meeker, Monte Rio and Occidental Fire crews have begun chipping in their local neighborhoods, helping the community remove downed debris from winter storms and removing fuel before fire season.

The chippers were provided by a recent Safer West County awarded CalFire grant that will help communities of Occidental, Camp Meeker, Monte Rio and Forestville make greater progress at fire mitigation efforts.  

To apply for FREE chipping in one of these communities, go to:https://saferwestcounty.org/grants/
 Need financial help with your defensible space work? Our incentive program will begin Aug. 1 and provide $1,000 of refund for a $1,500 expense. Stay tuned for details!
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a Friend
 If you have fire safety or emergency information
that is related to your local West County community that you want us to publish
please email us at:

SaferWestCounty@gmail.com
 While not required, we ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50.

We appreciate any and all contributions of any size.

Donations contribute to our expenses such as web hosting, bulk email services, and similar expenses.

Please make a donation through our website, or by pushing the button below, if you can.

Our US Mail address if you want to send a check is:
Safer West County
PO Box 1132
Occidental, CA 95465
DONATE TODAY
Safer West County Fire Safe Communities
BODEGA/BODEGA BAY
CAMP MEEKER
FREESTONE 
FORESTVILLE AREAS OF
HOLLYDALE/CANYON/TERRACES, CHAMPS, AND HACIENDA

GRATON/GREEN VALLEY
GUERNEVILLE
MONTE RIO
OCCIDENTAL
POCKET CANYON
RIO NIDO
WEST SEBASTOPOL

See our most recent Newsletters hereStay safe and keep in touch. Safer West County is always looking for people who can get involved, or ideas you may have about how we can best serve our community.

Let us know by emailing us.
 Copyright © 2023 Safer West County & FireSafe Groups, All rights reserved.
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Safer West County

saferwestcounty.org/
info@saferwestcounty.org


Our mailing address is:
Safer West County & FireSafe GroupsPO Box 1132Occidental, CA 95465