Most Recent Newsletters

April 28, 2022

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
April 28, 2022
NOAA Weather Radio
Emergency Alert Test
Friday, April 29, Noon

 The County of Sonoma and the National Weather Service Bay Area are conducting an emergency alert test of NOAA weather radios on Friday, April 29, at noon. The test will be countywide for residents who own a NOAA weather radio. After the test, participants are encouraged to provide feedback on whether or not the test message was received by their radio.
”We encourage everyone in Sonoma County with a NOAA weather radio to participate in this exercise,” said District 4 Supervisor James Gore, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “Learning to use the tools you have at your disposal during an emergency can be life saving for you and your family.”
The alert will be sent at noon to all NOAA weather radios in Sonoma County. The warning alarm will sound one time, followed by a short test message and then a closing alarm tone. The test message will be transmitted as a Civil Emergency Message, and the words “Civil Emergency Message” may scroll across the visual displays of compatible radios. The radio test cycle will play through only one time. Device owners are encouraged to:Make sure the device is plugged in with backup batteries installed.Set up correctly per the radio manufacturer instructions.Ensure the radio is properly configured, additional instructions can be found in the video here: https://youtu.be/h8Rb500f8rwProvide feedback after the exercise by emailing info@socoalert.com or calling (707) 565-1369. Please include your location to help assess the range of the test alert.The County and NOAA utilize the alerting function on weather radios to notify the public of imminent hazards or threats, including evacuations, tsunamis and flood warnings. The radio itself broadcasts continuous weather information directly from the National Weather Service offices across the country.

To prepare for an emergency, register for alerts or find your evacuation zone, visit: www.socoemergency.org/get-ready/.

For more information about the NOAA weather radio alert exercise visit: https://socoemergency.org/get-ready/events-exercises/#April-29-NOAA.
    Chipping update
 Fire Safe Occidental 2022 Chipping scheduled for the week of July 11-15. If you are interested in being part of this free chipping please contact David Shatkin to sign up dshatkin@sonic.net.
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a FriendWhile 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 TODAYFSO Website  FSCM WebsiteFSG WebsiteSee 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 © 2022 Safer West County & FireSafe Groups, All rights reserved.
You asked to be contacted with important Community Safety Information from Safer West County and FireSafe Groups

Safer West County

saferwestcounty.org/
info@saferwestcounty.org


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Safer West County & FireSafe GroupsPO Box 1132Occidental, CA  95465
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April 9, 2022

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
April 2022 Two Important Insurance News Items

 Public Hearing this Wednesday, April 13 from 1-5pm. The CA Dept. of Insurance (CDI) recently published proposed rules on wildfire risk rating and premium discounts. The Commissioner will hold a public hearing to provide all interested persons an opportunity to present statements or arguments, either orally or in writing, with respect to these regulations. Here is the link to Register for the Web-based Virtual Format:
 https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_MoTcvOKCRdKSe9GAmZE5Hw
In the proposed rules (which are subject to revision based on stakeholder feedback and, ultimately, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s decision) CDI envisions changes to how admitted carriers base homeowners insurance rates and offer premium discounts for wildfire mitigation work undertaken by communities and property owners.  

The draft proposed rules can be found here, and a summary of them done by SWC Board Member Ivan O’Neill is here.

SWC takes no official stance on the proposed rules, but if you’d like to provide written or verbal comments to CDI, you can do so here (see page 2).

More important Info on Insurance, Tuesday, April 19th at 4:30pm.  This is a free webinar on keeping your home insured when your options are limited and premiums are climbing:
 https://uphelp.org/events/r2papril19/
This webinar will cover:
• What to do if your insurer non-renews you.
• Is it safe to insure your home through a company you’ve never heard of?
• What is the CA Fair Plan and what options does it offer for insuring a home?
• What fine print matters when buying home insurance?
• Questions to ask to get adequate protection in place for your home.
    Wildfire Tracking Class
Put on by Lost in Forestville, this is a virtual class with step by step instructions for Watch Duty, Pulse Point, Scanner Radio, Alert Wildfire, AirVisual, Nixle, SoCo Alerts, and Midland NOAA Radios. Sign up here.
 Chipping update
 Fire Safe Occidental 2022 Chipping scheduled for the week of July 11-15. If you are interested in being part of this free chipping please contact David Shatkin to sign up dshatkin@sonic.net.
 Fire Safe Councils News:
Fire Safe Forestville had a great turn out and many people sign up at their recent Town Hall that covered issues from fire safety to community roads and parks. If you live in Forestville or know someone who does and were unable to make it but still want to be connected, you can still sign up through Safer West County.
  If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a FriendWhile 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
FSO Website  FSCM WebsiteFSG WebsiteSee 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.
 

March 9, 2022

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
March 2022
In This Issue* Two thank you’s! and a Chipping update
* Two town halls this week… March 10
* Improved Emergency Communications
* Forestville Town Hall on March 30
* Guerneville and Occidental News Thank you!
 Safer West County and Fire Safe Occidental want to thank two groups that have continued to support our efforts to improve the safety of our communities:

A big thanks to Chief Ron Lunardi and the Occidental Fire Department for hosting fire extinguisher classes.

Another big thank you to County Chief Steve Mosiurchak and Angela Perez for their continued help scheduling free chipping services throughout West County. We are awaiting dates for the next FSO “Community” chipping. The County, however, permits two “individual” chippings per property per year. Sign up here starting in April:

https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Fire-Prevention/Vegetation-Management-Services/Curbside-Chipper-Program/   This Week
Town Hall: Wildfire Risk and Insurance

Thursday, March 10 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a Virtual Town Hall on Wildfire Risk and Insurance, hosted by Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and the University of California Cooperative.

Discussions will address concerns around wildfire risk and insurance, with topics including:

What can we do to reduce our risk of losing our insurance coverage? 
What does the scientific research tell us about how can we reduce the risk to our lives and property from the threat of wildland fire?
What is on the horizon from the state?
What can the county do to help landowners manage their wildfire risk?

Speakers include:
Dr. Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma County Director and Livestock Range Management Advisor
Michael Newman, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety
Senator Mike McGuire (tentative)
Chief Ben Nicholls, CalFire
Sashi Sabaratnam, UC Cooperative Extension Wildfire Vegetation Mitigation Program Manager
Caerleon Safford, Permit Sonoma

Zoom information: 
https://sonomacounty.zoom.us/j/97837869122?pwd=VGpPS3BzQnA2d3BGV3diSVJ0N0Z3UT09
Passcode: 318019

No registration is required. Please submit questions prior by emailing leo.chyi@sonoma-county.org, or feel free to use the question and answer function on the Zoom during the town hall.
 
If you can’t attend, the recording will be available on Supervisor Hopkin’s Facebook page following the meeting: https://www.facebook.com/supervisorlyndahopkins.
 This Week
Sonoma Water to Host Virtual Drought Town Hall
The Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) will host a Virtual Drought Town Hall on Thursday, March 10 at 6:00 p.m. through a Zoom webinar. 

The town hall will focus on continued drought conditions in the Russian River watershed.

Speakers will include representatives from:
Sonoma Water,
California Department of Water Resources,
National Marine Fisheries Service,
Santa Rosa Water,
Sonoma County Farm Bureau, and
State Water Resources Control Board.

Speakers will discuss ongoing drought conditions, water supply management efforts, and conservation measures.  

Zoom information:
https://sonomacounty.zoom.us/j/99343832365?pwd=QUhndWQ5bk95dTIrMWRRL2ducVZCZz09
Passcode: 864640  Improving our emergency communications
 Safer West County received funds from the County, with the support of Lynda Hopkins’ office, to install a GMRS repeater on one of our member’s property 1.5 miles west of Occidental that has a high elevation, good support infrastructure and a good line of sight to improve communications in the greater Occidental, Bodega, Freestone, and Camp Meeker area. 

This repeater will allow community members with GMRS repeater capable radios to receive emergency alerts when other communications may be out due to power, fire, or other issues.

During the next few months Safer West County members will be testing and planning how to organize an emergency communications network from neighborhoods & areas in reach of the GMRS repeater. We are seeking individuals who might have expertise in this area and want to participate in this endeavor. If you have any questions or want to join us, please send an email to Safer West County.

Safer West County will provide more information and training as plans become more developed.

For information on Neighborhood Emergency Radio Communications and how GMRS Repeaters fit into them, view Damian Bouné’s excellent presentation here

Thank you again to Sonoma County, and especially Lynda and her office staff, for helping to make this happen. Upcoming Events:
Forestville Town Hall
Focus on Forestville

When: Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Time: 5:30 PM (Doors open at 5 PM)

Where: Forestville Elementary School, Multi-Purpose Room/Gym,
6321 Hwy 116, Forestville

Both In-Person & Via Zoom
In-Person Attendees Must Show Proof of Covid Vaccinations. Masks Are Required.

Zoom Link:
https://sonomacounty.zoom.us/j/93915056157?pwd=dU1QQ2QyV0RJVkVmb0JhczAwK3VzUT09
Passcode: 452141

For agenda & more information, go here.
 Fire Safe Councils News:
FireSafe Guerneville Celebrated its first annual Wildfire Readiness Week!
 
FireSafe Guerneville held its first-ever Wildfire Readiness Week from Feb. 20-26, 2022, in downtown Guerneville. Six presentations on wildfire-related topics were held at the Russian River Books & Letters bookstore. People could also join Zoom and FaceBook live. We covered wildfire behavior, home hardening and defensible space, reducing fuels on large landscapes with grazing and prescribed fire and discussed the effects of recent fires in our local state parks.  We had a panel of experts discuss evacuations from a wildfire incident and how to use emergency alerts. One day was dedicated to a Spanish language presentation on creating defensible space. We held a drawing for a prize at the end of each presentation, giving away go-bags provided by the Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services and CalFire, a first aid kit donated by Lark Rexall Drugs, and Spanish programmed NOAA radios provided by Jim Boggeri at Sonoma County Fire District.
 
We heard from participants how much they appreciated having experts such as CalFire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville and Stuart Mitchell from Wildfire Mitigation Advisors available to answer questions. Jon Kanagy with the Resilient Landscapes Coalition brought in examples of mulch to show what not to use around the house and several native plants to consider adding beyond the 0–5-foot zone of the house. Che Casul with Circuit Rider made a great case for using grazing on your land to control excess fuel. State Park employee Chris Heintzelman showed us what happened inside Armstrong Woods and Austin Creek State Parks during the Walbridge Fire and how the parks are recovering. Lark Pharmacist Ann Blancke provided participants with resources on planning for your medications during emergencies and brought N-95 masks for attendees to take home. Misti Wood from the Sonoma County Sherriff’s Office explained the role of law enforcement officers during an evacuation and brought evacuation tags to hand out. Psychologist Kathie Kimsey led a lively discussion of emotional trauma related to persistent wildfire risk in our area. Jim Boggeri helped us understand the different emergency alerts and how fire agencies work with other first responders during a wildfire event.
 
On the weekend days, we had outdoor demonstrations of 2-way GMRS radios at the Plaza. These radios are part of a grassroots movement to provide communication services when we lose telephone and internet access. Volunteers with the CazHills GMRS project were able to program radios for participants. Representatives from the Sonoma County Radio Amateurs Radio were also present to talk about amateur radio (ham radios). The Watch Duty app team of Damian Boune, Sara Paul, and Joshua Leone were on hand to talk about how they provided information during a wildfire incident. 
 
Two book readings for children, a visiting goat, and a fun scavenger hunt throughout town completed our weeklong event.   The Guerneville Library and Sonoma Nesting Co. were among the locations where items were hidden. In addition to being places where items were hidden, Oli Gallery donated crayons for gift bags, and the Guerneville 5 & 10 provided a beautiful stuffed dragon and a Paw Patrol firefighter dalmatian stuffed dog as prizes. Elizabeth Lawson from Fire Safe Occidental and Safer West County provided 7 copies of “Odin, Dog Hero of the Fires” and “Spout, the Dragon who became a Firefighter” as prizes. The grand prize of a go-bag packed with items for use during an evacuation was donated by King’s Sport and Tackle. The young boy who won this prize lives in Guerneville and was very excited to win his big prize!
 
We are very grateful to Safer West County for the loan of EZ up tents and materials and to Russian River Books & Letters for providing us a location for 7 days. We could not have done this without the help of the local emergency agencies, merchants, volunteers, and FSG board members. Thank you to all who came out and made this Wildfire Readiness Week a success! Check out our website www.firesafeguerneville.org for more information about future events. You can email us at firesafeguerneville@gmail or call 707-873-4323 to get involved.
 Fire Safe Councils News:
Fire Safe Occidental Updates

 FSO is in the process of reviewing and updating its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). For those of you that might not be familiar with the document, it is a summary of the risks to a community from fire, and a plan to address them. Among other things, it looks at Evacuation, Communication, Fuels Reduction and Ignition Sources. It is extremely useful when applying for grants and is also a great way to define and prioritize our work as an organization. The FSO CWPP encompasses the entire Occidental Community Services District and was finalized in 2020. It is required to be updated periodically.

On Sunday March 6th, Neighborhood Leaders gathered with the SC to help with reviewing our progress on current projects, identifying additional areas of concern and next steps. We’ll have additional meetings in the next few weeks to set priorities and define next steps. Community participation is welcomed. Contact your Neighborhood Leader if you would like to attend the next meeting.

Neighborhood Leaders are also in the process of generating lists of the riskiest areas in each neighborhood. As many of you know, more and more funding is becoming available, and we’d like to be “shovel ready” to attack the vegetation work on these parcels as soon as dollars become available. If you know of an area that needs attention, be sure your Leader knows.

If you don’t know who your Leader is send a message to carolynsell@gmail.com.

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

Forward to a FriendWhile 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 TODAYFSO Website  FSCM WebsiteFSG WebsiteSee 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 © 2022 Safer West County & FireSafe Groups, All rights reserved.
You asked to be contacted with important Community Safety Information from Safer West County and FireSafe Groups

Safer West County

saferwestcounty.org/
info@saferwestcounty.org


Our mailing address is:
Safer West County & FireSafe GroupsPO Box 1132Occidental, CA  95465
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February 5, 2022


Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
February 2022Sonoma County Community Wildfire
Protection Plan (CWPP)

Sonoma County Planning Commission wants YOUR INPUT on their Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Here is the YouTube Video of the 5th District Public Review Meeting held recently.

The Sonoma CWPP Draft can be found at:
 sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Fire-Prevention/Community-Wildfire-Protection-Plan/  
You can comment right on the document so the county gets your input directly by following the instructions in the “2022 CWPP Review” block in yellow, just below the lead in paragraph.

Please note: public comments are due by February 28, 2022.
    SoCo Fire Services restructure
In case you missed it, many of our local fire departments have been consolidated.  The details can be found in this Sonoma County Press releasePepperwood Preserve
series on Wildfires in Oak Woodlands.

 There is much debate around the wildfires we have been experiencing in recent years—their cause, our future role in stewarding the forests, and what constitutes stewardship. A lot of good research is being done and this is an interesting video of a webinar by UCB graduate student Kendall Calhoun, concerning wildlife’s response to a large wildfire in Mendocino (the Mendocino Complex).
  Grazing—as fuel reduction and soil enrichment
 As we enter into bird nesting season, much of our fuel reduction efforts need to go on hold. But if you include grazing animals in your toolbox, you can continue improving your fire resilience through out spring and summer.  Read this lovely story by Che Casul for some great inspiration on how to get started. 
 Animals, Emergencies & Disasters:What You Need To Know Now!
 Join Bodega Bay CERT and HALTER Project Founder-Director Julie Atwood for this important and timely presentation in an online workshop, February 7, 2022, 6-7:30 pm.

Pets, equines, backyard farm animals, commercial livestock, and wildlife will all be discussed. See the Flyer for more details and how to register.
 Articles on Watch Duty
Watch Duty became a valuable app resource for many last year to stay informed during fire season. Here are two interesting articles with more details about what they are doing.
 The Guardian
SoCoNews FireSafe Guerneville
 FireSafe Guerneville is a recently formed grassroots organization with a mission to help Guerneville residents adapt to life in wildfire country. We have worked closely with CalFire, Sonoma County Fire Department, Fire Safe Sonoma, Safer West County and other local experts to assemble the current best practice guidelines for wildfire safety and make this information easily available to all. Our organization also is connecting with residents from all areas of Guerneville to learn what the community sees as priorities regarding wildfire safety.
 
Our first annual Wildfire Readiness Week will be held in downtown Guerneville from Sunday, February 20 to Saturday, February 26, 2022. We
have invited CalFire Battalion Chief, Marshall Turbeville, Stuart Mitchell from Wildfire Mitigation Advisors, Che Casul from Circuit Rider, and others to speak at an event that will be held at the new bookstore, Russian River Books & Letters, located at 14045 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville.

Tony Goodwin will provide hands-on demonstrations at the Plaza of two-way GMRS radios for use in emergency settings. We will be providing emergency handouts in both English and Spanish.  

Join in the fun and enter to win prizes with our scavenger hunt!

A schedule of speakers and locations for the scavenger hunt will be on our website www.firesafeguerneville.org in early February. 

For more information please email us at firesafeguerneville@gmail.com or leave a message at 707-873-4323.
 Fire Safe Occidental 
Occidental sewer pipeline project

Work is proceeding apace! The Sonoma County Water Agency is hosting an update meeting on the sewer pipeline project Thursday, February 10 at 5:30 pm. Look here for the meeting information and a link to register for the Zoom webinar.
  Joy Road
 Joy Road continues to degrade, losing inches off the sides regularly on the steeper areas between Bodega Highway and Lauri Lane.  The County has portions of the road slated for a new top in 2023, but they are not doing the entire damaged stretch.  As an important evacuation route for many residents, we feel this is a grave mistake and are pushing to get this entire stretch improved.  

We are asking for community support in this matter.  Please log complaints about the road safety of Joy Road either by calling Road Maintenance at 565-5100, or use SoCo Report It. Select the subheading that best describes the type of issue (pothole, vegetation overgrowth, etc.).   Fill out the brief questionnaire and hit “Submit.” 
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a FriendWhile 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
FSO Website  FSCM WebsiteFSG WebsiteSee 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 © 2022 Safer West County & FireSafe Groups, All rights reserved.
You asked to be contacted with important Community Safety Information from Safer West County and FireSafe Groups

Safer West County

saferwestcounty.org/
info@saferwestcounty.org


Our mailing address is:
Safer West County & FireSafe GroupsPO Box 1132Occidental, CA  95465
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December 22, 2021

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
December 2021
Beyond 100 feet Webinar followup
 For those who attended Safer West County’s recent webinar, “Beyond Defensible Space: Vegetation Management Outside the 100 Foot Zone”, you know what a wealth of information was shared. For those of you who missed it, you can (and will want to) catch the full recording on YouTube hereFeel free to share/forward the recording with anyone.

Michael Jones (UCCE forester) and Brock Dolman (OAEC wildlife biologist and land manager) gave very informative presentations showcasing options for landowners in western Sonoma County to manage their land outside of the 100-foot defensible space zone for fire resilience and natural resource protection.

For those of you who attended and want to rewatch a specific section you can jump to each portion:For Ellie Insley’s intro, go to 4:45.For Michael’s presentation go to 17:40.For Brock’s presentation go to 50:53.For the Q&A portion, go to 1:24:55.
Also, here is the list of Forestry Resources that we committed to get you that were shared during the webinar in case you’d like to research further, access expertise, or learn about grants.

Thank you to Fire Safe Sonoma for funding this event and to Brock, Michael, Ellie, Jon, and Mason for producing a great event! Stay tuned for more opportunities to learn about land stewardship in Sonoma County in the new year.

If you’d like to support the organizations that made this event possible in your year-end giving, we thank you for your generosity:Safer West CountyFire Safe SonomaSonoma Ecology Center
On behalf of Safer West County, Fire Safe Sonoma, and the Sonoma Ecology Center, we wish you safe and happy holidays!
    2021 PROJECT ROUNDUP
 In early 2021, with donations from our local hardware stores, Friedmans, Sebastopol Hardware and Occidental Hardware, and other supporters, SWC purchased hand tools to be used to support defensible space and fuels reduction projects by our first Americorp Team. Those tools have been put to good use this year! 

Americorp Team Defensible Space
 SWC’s first Americorp team was small but mighty! This spring, working with neighborhood leaders, they created defensible space around fourteen homes in Occidental, Freestone and Camp Meeker and also worked with the team at OAEC doing fuels reduction work. 

Neighborhood Work Days
SWC’s tool collection was also used to support 6 neighborhood work days! (Contact Elizabeth at 650-796-7158 to reserve tools for your organization’s next work day.)

 LAST BUT NOT LEAST – The Amazing work at Harrison Grade Ecological Reserve
Thanks to neighborhood volunteers (who put in countless hours), a Safer West County Americorps grant team, support from Fire Safe Sonoma, and Fish and Wildlife funding of Circuit Riders, a huge amount of dead debris has been chipped or burned on or surrounding the Harrison Grade EcologicalReserve. This work has decreased a significant fire risk to the communities of both Occidental and Camp Meeker. While this is a multi-year endeavor, the progress made this past month was incredible. Ron Lunardi, Chief of the VFD in Occidental, toured the work site, and is excited by the potential to lay fire lines to protect both the valuable manzanita in the Reserve, and the adjacent property.

SWC Board Members Carolyn Sell and Paul Stange worked with all parties involved to coordinate this project. Starting with a massive, nearly impenetrable tangle of brush, with 2-3’ of dead wood on the ground, neighborhood volunteers worked on the private land surrounding the Reserve to clear dead wood and debris and clear space for burning and chipping piles. Circuit Riders began their part of the project, creating still more piles to be moved for burning and chipping. Our fall Americorp Team of 10 individuals (on abbreviated assignment due to other pressing Americorp needs) spent 6 days hauling tarps full of wood to the chipping area. With two days of burning, and one VERY full day of chipping, all the biomass from the private land was reduced to a few piles of char and ash and some big piles of chips. Circuit Riders will continue to chip along Harrison Grade to remove the rest of the debris from the Reserve.

Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of the magnitude of the work.
 Our thanks to Fire Safe Sonoma for the chipper rental and to Jose Olea for his supervision of the crew and the chipper!
 Give A Gift to the Landscape We Love 
When a small group of West County residents formed Fire Safe Occidental (FSO) in 2018 and later Safer West County (SWC) in 2019, we did so out of alarm for the fire risk to our beloved forests, communities, and individual homes.

 As a result of fires (compounded by the impact of COVID-19) businesses and restaurants have closed. Seasonal tourism is often halted by smoke and evacuations. Insurance costs are increasing. Public Safety Power Shutoffs are routine. All of our lives are impacted. For places where fire actually burned, it will take a long time for many to recover and centuries for trees and habitat to regrow. Our work has become more and more important and timely.

Safer West County and our Fire Safe organizations in Graton, Forestville, Guerneville, Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, Occidental, Freeston, and Bodega/Bodega Bay continue to work on community education, grants to fund needed work on emergency systems and fuel reduction, and lobby for policies that reflect our changing times and that encourage forest and watershed health, stewardship, and community resiliency.

We need your help to continue our work to empower our communities and protect our forests. We’re a small volunteer organization, yet have made great strides in just a few years to advocate for our area. We need your involvement as well as your financial support to do the work that involves community engagers, scientists, attorneys and other consultants to allow us to present effective arguments to government agencies and applications for grants based on facts and science.
 End-of-Year Donation
Please consider supporting the work we do for the health of our forests and communities with an end-of-year donation to SWC.

The people driving Safer West County and our local Fire Safe organizations, just like you live in these forests, do business in them, and love them. We look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming year as our small group of volunteers grows to have a greater impact on the safety and health of our communities (both human and otherwise).
 Donate Button
 Thank you for your continuing interest and support. We wish you safe and happy holidays!
 If you want to share this Newsletter with a friend, please use this link:

Forward to a FriendWhile 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
 FSO Website      FSCM WebsiteSee 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 © 2021 Safer West County & FireSafe Groups, All rights reserved.
You asked to be contacted with important Community Safety Information from Safer West County and FireSafe Groups

Safer West County

info@saferwestcounty.org


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

November 27, 2021

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
26 November 2021
Upcoming Events:
 Defensible Space:
Managing Vegetation Beyond ‘100 Feet’


Tuesday, December 7, 2021 from 6:00-8:00 pm
Learn how to reduce your wildfire risk while increasing habitat health outside the defensible space zone.
 Sponsored by Safer West County,
Presented by Sonoma Ecology Center, and 
Funded by Fire Safe Sonoma.

All are welcome, however workshop content will be focused on the Safer West County communities.
 Live Presentations via Zoom Register Here

Click on the poster below for more information.
    Safer West County News:
Free Chipping:

The County will again be in the OCSD area for chipping the week of December 13th.

Get your piles stacked correctly (they really do pass them by if you don’t) and sign up with David Shatkin at dshatkin@sonic.net. Go here for info on pile requirements.


BioChar is a great alternative to burn piles:

See our November 22 Newsletter here for more details


Growing Network of Fire Safe Councils:

We have councils existing and emerging in Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Forestville, Freestone, Green Valley/Graton, Guerneville, Monte Rio, Occidental, and West Sebastopol—and all of them could use a little of your time or expertise to tackle the array of opportunities ahead of us to improve our fire resilience and emergency preparedness in West County.

Let us know if you can help by sending us an email.
 Giving Tuesday:
November 30th is “Giving Tuesday.” While we ask you to consider giving to Safer West County among the many requests you will get, we also want to express how grateful we are, the volunteers who make up Safer West County, for our thriving communities 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.

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.
 PLEASE DONATE!
 Fire Safe Councils News
 Fire Safe Occidental:

FSO is initiating a reverse call system throughout Occidental as a backup to other alert systems allowing each neighborhood to have easy and quick access to notifying each other in the event of a local fire or other emergencies. Please make sure your neighborhood leader has accurate phone numbers for everyone in your household and anyone who regularly works on your property so that in the event of a local emergency you can easily be notified. More about the system coming soon….
 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
See our most recent Newsletters here

November 22, 2021

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
22 November 2021
Upcoming Events:
 December 7 – Defensible Space Beyond 100ft Webinar:

The Resilient Landscapes Coalition is holding another webinar to help us thoughtfully manage the beautiful area we live in—this time extending to the 100 feet around your home.

The last webinar this group did for Safer West County was widely attended and people felt the information was extremely useful.

This webinar will be equally helpful with experts Ellie Insley (Resilient Landscapes Coalition), Brock Dolman (from Occidental Arts and Ecology Center), and Mike Jones, PhD (with UC Cooperative Extension).  

Exact time and registration details will be announced soon.
 Safer West County News:
Free Chipping:

The County will again be in the OCSD area for chipping the week of December 13th.

Get your piles stacked correctly (they really do pass them by if you don’t) and sign up with David Shatkin at dshatkin@sonic.net. Go here for info on pile requirements.


BioChar is a great alternative to burn piles:

Green Valley and the Resilient Landscape Collation held separate live biochar workshops the past few days.

A popular topic, Biochar provides two great outcomes as a fuel reduction technique.

First, much of the carbon from your limbing and trimming is sequestered into the ground rather than released into the air and second, the resulting biochar can be a wonderful additive to gardens, orchards, and landscaping when mixed with compost.

We have included more info at the end of this newsletter on biochar and will keep you posted on other events when we know about them. 


Giving Tuesday:

November 30th is “Giving Tuesday.” While we ask you to consider giving to Safer West County among the many requests you will get, we also want to express how grateful we are, the volunteers who make up Safer West County, for our thriving communities 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.

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. Your time could be the difference in Safer West County being awarded a grant to help residents do home hardening work or improvements to evacuation routes.  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.
 PLEASE DONATE!

Growing Network of Fire Safe Councils:

We have councils existing and emerging in Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Forestville, Freestone, Green Valley/Graton, Guerneville, Monte Rio, Occidental, and West Sebastopol—and all of them could use a little of your time or expertise to tackle the array of opportunities ahead of us to improve our fire resilience and emergency preparedness in West County.
Let us know if you can help by sending us an email.


From PG&E:
 Neighborhood News:
 Occidental’s Neighborhood #1 (Harrison Grade)is tackling a big project (40 acres) in and around the Ecological Reserve on the west side of the street below Stoetz. Thanks to the neighborhood volunteers who came to the first work-day and made a big dent in the vegetation overgrowth!

This is a complex project coordinating volunteers, CA Fish & Wildlife, Circuit Riders, County Chipping, and AmeriCorps crews.

We have both public and private lands as well as a whole host of endangered species to work around. A huge challenge–but well worth the effort as the Reserve sits directly north of town and directly east of Camp Meeker. Fire Safe Councils News
 Fire Safe Occidental 
FSO is initiating a reverse call system throughout Occidental as a backup to other alert systems allowing each neighborhood to have easy and quick access to notifying each other in the event of a local fire or other emergencies. Please make sure your neighborhood leader has accurate phone numbers for everyone in your household and anyone who regularly works on your property so that in the event of a local emergency you can easily be notified. More about the system coming soon….
 All About Biochar
Overview 

Biochar is gaining recognition as a preferred alternative to pile burning for vegetation management because it reduces smoke (and carbon emissions), increases soil and forest health, and reduces scarring on the forest floor. The best part is that it’s an easy modification to traditional pile burns!


What is Biochar?

Bio-charcoal (Biochar) is the nearly pure carbon residue leftover after pyrolyzing woody biomass.  Pyrolyzing is a fancy term that basically means cooking wood (or other biomass) in a low oxygen environment to burn off the volatile compounds and other gases. The result is similar to the charcoal briquets that you’d buy at the store for grilling.


Biochar is an Ancient Technology

Native Americans have been using fire to cultivate the landscapes in Sonoma County for thousands of years. In fact, indigenous peoples in both North and South America have used fire to cultivate crops, create natural fibers for baskets and clothing, and increase forage for game since time immemorial.

In the Amazon River basin, terra preta (translation: black soil) has been found widely distributed near pre-Columbian settlements and, to this day ~450 years after these settlements disappeared, terra preta soils are much more fertile than other Amazonian soils, which are otherwise naturally poor.

Historically, charcoal created by low intensity fires in our region was a key component to the fire-adapted plant species and increased nutrient cycling in the soil, but it has declined due to fire exclusion and suppression.


Why Char Instead of Burning?

Creating charcoal from woody plant debris rather than burning it to ash has a number of benefits:Less smoke and up to half the carbon emissions – In the biochar method, the gases and volatile organic compounds (VoCs) released by the biomass as it heats up are consumed by flames and burn far more cleanly than in traditional, bottom-lit pile burning.  It also minimizes scarring on the land from pile burns, which burn hot close to the ground.Increases soil fertility – The exact mechanism is still being worked out, but soils with biochar increase soil cation by up to 30%. That’s a fancy way of saying it makes more soil nutrients available to plants.  Microbes colonize the porous structure of the biochar and use the negative ions in the biochar to increase their metabolic rate and provide more minerals to plants.Increases water retention in the soil –Biochar’s porosity also soaks up water during rains and then slowly releases it over time. This reduces erosion and runoff and also acts as a “water bank” for plants and crops growing in those soils, which further increases drought tolerance.

Great, so How Do I Make Biochar?

To create bio-charcoal instead of ash, you simply need to make a few modifications to your normal pile burn:Wait until it is safe and legal to burn, typically November to April.Stack the biomass in a clear area away from structures and overhanging trees.Secure sufficient water for dousing the flames, typically one gallon per cubic foot of biomass.Biomass of similar size is best: typically no thicker than four inches in diameter and no longer than 4 feet in length. The smallest recommended size is about 3×3”. The biomass should be dried for at least a few weeks after clearance.Pile the biomass up to 4 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter like you would stack a normal pile burn.This next step is key!: Light the pile from the top.  Feel free to use a fire starter to assist.  By lighting from the top, the hydrocarbon and volatile gases in the wood are consumed by the flames, which reduces smoke and pollutants and results in a cooler, more controlled burn.Monitor the pile while it’s burning.Periodically add more material, as the fire allows.When the pile is reduced to coals, but before it turns to fine ash, rake them out and douse with water until the coals are cold. Think of how you rake out a campfire before going to bed; you want to be able to pick up the biochar in your hand.
You can also contact Raymond Baltar with Sonoma Ecology Center with questions, rent one of their Ring of Fire biochar kilns, or request resources and assistance.

Biochar reduces the volume of biomass by about 90%.


What Do I Do With Biochar?

If you want to use the biochar for agricultural applications or in a garden, collect the biochar and mix into compost.  Recipes we’ve seen range from 1:10 or 1:2 ratio of biochar:compost depending on the pH of your soil (biochar is alkalizing).  

You can also soak in compost tea.  For best results, let the biochar+compost or tea mixture cure for two weeks and then incorporate into your soil.  

Biochar is a sponge for moisture and microbes, and you want it to absorb nutrients in a compost pile before incorporating into agricultural soils.

If you’re applying back into a wooded area with established trees, broadcasting the biochar over a wide area is fine.  The goal is to avoid concentrating too much in any area.  This mimics historical low intensity fire.


Learning More

Here are some resources if you’d like to learn more:Scaling Biochar: Recent conference with about 20 recordings from presenters on all things biochar.55 Uses of Biochar: Comprehensive academic article.A Farmer’s Guide to Biochar: For our agriculture community members.Biochar FAQ: All your biochar questions answered.How Biochar Works in Soil: For our soil nerds🤓.
 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 15, 2021

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
15 October 2021
Help with Defensible Space on Your Property
 Safer West County will again have an AmeriCorps team here doing defensible space work for property owners unable physically or financially to do the work themselves. Teams will use hand tools to limb tree branches up and remove ladder fuel and remove or thin vegetation close to your home.

We will distribute the workdays across our communities of Bodega/Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Forestville, Freestone, Graton, Guerneville, Monte Rio, and Occidental. 

If you, or someone you know, could use help making your home more fire resilient, please email us at info@SaferWestCounty.org.

We will give priority to those properties where a neighborhood project leader is available to help meet the AmeriCorps team the morning of the project and be available to answer questions during the day if the team requires support.
 
Can You Donate Tools or Funds to Buy Tools?
Last spring we outfitted 6 AmeriCorps volunteers with loppers, wheelbarrows, hand saws, rakes, and shovels.  This month we will receive a team of 12 which is great news for the amount of work we can accomplish. With this comes a need for additional tools. 

If you have tools in good working order that you no longer use please consider cleaning out your shed and donating them to Safer West County.

Or, we would greatly appreciate financial support to equip these volunteers for this important work. 

NOTE: These tools may be available (when not in use by our AmeriCorps volunteers) to Safer West County neighborhood groups; let us know if you want more information on this plan.

To let us know how you can help or if you want to use our tools, please email us at info@SaferWestCounty.org.
 Resilient Landscape Webinar Follow Up
 We learned a lot during the webinar on how to approach landscaping for both beauty and fire resiliency. Anyone who missed it, can watch the recording on YouTubeIn addition, Resilient Landscape Commission and Fire Safe Sonoma are offering two follow-up sessions. 
Neighborhood Tours
First, we will be visiting different neighborhood properties Oct 23 or Oct 30, 10am-12pm, to discuss specific defensible space treatments to give you practical ideas of how to apply the webinar information.

Communities include Bodega, Freestone, Occidental, Camp Meeker, Forestville, Guerneville, or Monte Rio.

To sign up please send an email specifying your preferred date and the community you live in to: info@SaferWestCounty.org
 Home Hardening
Defensible Space Assessor
Training

Second, many of you indicated an interest in becoming a home hardening and defensible space assessor. Fire Safe Sonoma will be provide this in two 3-hour trainings:

October 27 5:30-8:30pm and November 3 5:30-8:30pm. For more information and to sign up:

Training 1 on Oct 27:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BY7mIMYySvyL40hdtpSx9Q

Training 2 on Nov 3:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LMR60A34SjCjC4F8TTKsZQ
 Report Safety Concerns to PGEPG&E has developed a mobile app, PG&E Report It, to make it easy to report non-emergency safety concerns related to PG&E electrical equipment. The app is being launched as part of a pilot. During the pilot, usage of the app will be focused on reports from customers in high fire threat areas.

Look here for more information and how to sign up.
  Fire Safe Occidental News
Roadside Fuel Reduction work

We have made amazing progress along Coleman Valley and some of Joy Rd and Bittner.  The team is on another project and will return the first week of November to complete work on both Bittner and Joy Rd.

Staying Connected in Emergencies

FSO is initiating a reverse call system throughout Occidental as a backup to other alert systems allowing each neighborhood to have easy and quick access to notifying each other in the event of a local fire or other emergencies.

Please make sure your neighborhood leader has accurate phone numbers for everyone in your household and anyone who regularly works on your property so that in the event of a local emergency you can easily be notified.  More about the system coming soon….
 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 TODAYStay 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.Subscribe to Safer West County

September 24, 2021

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
24 September 2021
TWO UPCOMING EVENTS JUST FOR YOU!REMINDER
Resilient Landscape Webinar
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
6 – 8 pm

 Safer West County is hosting a Resilient Landscape Webinar to help you create biodiverse fire-wise landscaping with experts from the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County, Sonoma Ecology Center, Habitat Corridor Project, and Fire Safe Sonoma. Topics covered will include:
 specific plant and design suggestions in the 0-5’, 5-30’, and 30-100’ defensible space zones|
 how to reconcile potentially conflicting goals of beauty, biodiversity, low water use, and fire resilience
 what it means to be sustainable in an ever-changing California climate.
Sign up at the  UC ANR websiteFire Extinguisher Use
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Either 10 or 11 AM

Having a fire extinguisher is only half of what is needed to help keep your home safe—being able to effectively use it is the other. 

Join Safer West County at the Occidental Fire Station on October 20th (Wed.) at either 10 or 11 am for a must-know training on how to safely use a fire extinguisher.  It could make all the difference someday.

Offered for free but space is limited. Registration is required and will be confirmed on a first-come basis. 

Email carolynsell@gmail.com with your name, email, phone number, and choice of 10 or 11 am workshop times.

Sponsored by Safer West County, Occidental Volunteer Fire Department, and Santa Rosa Fire Equipment Services.
 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
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.Subscribe to Safer West County

September 17, 2021

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
17 September 2021
Resilient Landscape Webinar
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
6 – 8 pm

 How do you improve fire resiliency in the first few feet around your home and still have beautiful landscaping?

Can you encourage wildlife habitat and still do defensible space work?

These are just some of the questions that we will tackle in this upcoming webinar with experts from the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County, Sonoma Ecology Center, Habitat Corridor Project, and Fire Safe Sonoma.

To learn more about the webinar see the insert below and sign up on the  UC ANR website
 PG&E Generator and Battery Rebates
 Did you know that PG&E offers rebates to help you purchase portable generators and backup batteries if you have medical needs or a water source that depends on electricity when the power is out?

With power outages becoming a common occurrence, this could be important for you.

For more information on the program, read this. To see what are qualifying products visit the PG&E website, scroll down and download the list.
 Volunteer
Everyone has something to contribute Safer West County is an all volunteer organization. To be effective as a network we rely on the skills and talents of everyone. What are your interests and skills? What are the resources available within your friends or organization? We could use a little of your time! Let us know by emailing us. We ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50; it is not required.

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.DONATE TODAY
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.Subscribe to Safer West County

August 25, 2021

Safer West County
Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter
25 August 2021
Optimizing Traffic Control 
on Roadside Fire Safety Clearing
 Sonoma County TPW  (the Dept. of Transportation & Public Works) is providing traffic control along the roadways as Conservation Corps workers do the work associated with the grants secured to make our evacuation routes safer. 

The grants are focused on making changes that will last for a number of years, therefore the workers will not be clearing minor vegetation, like grasses, that are the normal responsibility of property owners. 

If you want support doing roadside work at your property, Fire Safe Occidental will work with TPW to coordinate extended traffic control each day after the CCNB crews are done working (approximately 2:30 pm) to allow property owners to tackle the grasses at the edge of the roadway safely.

If you are interested in traffic control on your section of Coleman Valley Road, Joy Road, or Bittner, please contact Elizabeth at 1-650-796-7158 and she will work with TPW to make arrangements. Please give us as much advance notice as possible! 
 KRCB Firecast
A Useful Tool
 
KRCB 104.9 FM is Sonoma County’s NPR Public Radio Station. They have been promoting their Firecast website, which curates a number of useful tools relating to fire all in one place. Tools include Satellite heat maps, 911 calls via PulsePoint, Live Fire Cams, Evacuations, Wind speed, weather advisories, smoke via PurpleAir, and power outages via PG&E. This can be a very convenient site for getting information.
 Try it out:
Firecast
 7 Saturdays to a
More Fire-Resistant Home series
 As we are learning that fire season is becoming an annual event, it is important that those of us who live here find resources to be prepared, not scared.

Safer West County is committed to sharing events and resources that can help you be just that—better prepared. In the link below you will find a video series from PGE that covers:Defensible Space (1-30 feet)Defensible Space (to 100 feet)3 Affordable Home Hardening ActionsEvacuation PreparationsFire Resistant LandscapingThings to do Inside Your HomeFire Resilient Communities
You will find the video series here:   Seven-Saturdays
Even though sometimes it seems like there is so much more to do than you may have time or money to accomplish, remember:
 “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
 A Message Fron
Watch Duty

Watch Duty, a service that started two weeks ago, is asking for financial support. Please review the letter they sent Safer West County in the link below. We believe they are an important addition to the fire notification systems we have available to us and ask you to consider supporting them.
 Watch Duty Letter
 Stewarding Forests for
Wildlife and Fire Resilience – SOLD OUT

a Pepperwood Preserve event
The original Pepperwood Preserve event scheduled for September 18 was sold out, so another was scheduled for September 26. This second event  sold out just as this newsletter was about to be sent out.

The workshop is to learn how to manage vegetation in different forest types, how to deal with the slash, how wildfire responds to different treatments, what is the best response to fire-killed trees, and what funding sources are available for forest stewardship. If you are interested in this type of event, we encourage you to put your name on the waiting list as it might encourage them to another.

Do that here (it’s at the bottom of the web page). Let them know you want more of these events. Volunteer
Everyone has something to contribute Safer West County is an all volunteer organization. To be effective as a network we rely on the skills and talents of everyone. What are your interests and skills? What are the resources available within your friends or organization? We could use a little of your time! Let us know by emailing us. We ask everyone to consider making an annual donation of $25-50; it is not required.

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.DONATE TODAY

August 9, 2021

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
THIS WEEK Alert Testing!

9 August 2021 NewsletterTHIS WEEK Alert Testing!

FEMA, FCC Conducting Tests of
Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System

This Wednesday, August 11, at 11:20am, there will be a FEMA  Opt-In test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System.

Opt-in means you must be signed up for this specific test to receive the test alert. For information to opt-in, follow this LINK to the Advisory which has instructions for a post alert survey, and a separate instruction sheet to enable both Android and iPhone.

This is a great opportunity to see if your specific phone, in your specific area will be likely to receive this type of an alert.

Please feel free to share with your neighbors and friends if they are also interested. As in the past, your neighbors and you may not all get the alert, but if some do you can leverage your group network to spread the word too!

Stronger together, for sure!

For your convenience, if you don’t find the links in the Advisory mentioned above, you can go directly to the Instructions that guide you through the test survey process at this LINK.

 

July 30, 2021

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
30 July 2021 Newsletter
Upcoming Webinar series
to help you make your home
more fire resilient

Fire Safe Sonoma is doing a 3-part series on three successive Thursdays at 6 pm, August 5th, 12th & 19th, that can really help you focus on the highest priority projects you can do to protect your home from fire.

The series starts with the most important step—home (structural) hardening, followed by Home Ignition Zones and Defensible Space the next two Thursdays.
See these flyers for details:   Home (Structural) Hardening
   Home Ignition Zone
   Defensible Space
or simply register here for each event:
Register for Home (Structural) Hardening
Register for Home Ignition Zone
Register for Defensible Space 
 Roadside Fuel Reduction Work
on Coleman Valley, Joy and Bittner Roads
Has Begun
Occidental roads are becoming safer to navigate in an evacuation thanks to the hard work of the Conservation Corp North Bay and TPW traffic control crews.

This part of the work is funded by a PG&E grant to Fire Safe Sonoma that Fire Safe Occidental and Safer West County were able to obtain for our community.
 Wildfire Adapted Sonoma County
grant-funded program

If your property is in the project area shown in the map below, you are eligible for a Wildfire Adapted Sonoma County grant-funded program. Each parcel in the project area will receive a vegetation management assessment and can opt-in to receive a structure hardening assessment. See the Sonoma County Adapts website for more information.

During phase 2 of the project, property owners will be able to apply for incentive funding to implement measures recommended by the assessors. 
Sign up to receive notification about when the incentive application period will open.  

For more information, please send email to: WildfireAdapted@sonoma-county.org
 Download map
 OAEC is Reopening This Fall!
Starting October 1st, 2021, Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC) will be reopening to offer Permaculture Design Courses, Garden Volunteer Days (by RSVP), the Internship Program  and more! 

In preparation OAEC is staffing up.  They will also be once again booking organizational retreats starting in October through all of 2022. See here for more details.
 
 DONATE TODAY

July 23, 2021

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
23 July 2021 Newsletter
Roadside Fuel Reduction begins July 26th
Joy Rd/Coleman Valley Rd/Bittner Rd
Roadside Fuel reduction begins July 26th!!! Work will start at Coleman Valley Rd near downtown Occidental moving along Joy Rd to Bodega Highway. (Bittner Rd will follow.) Conservation Corp North Bay crews will raise the tree canopy, remove brush and dead trees from the side of the street back 15 feet back making our evacuation routes much safer.

If your property borders Coleman Valley, Joy or Bittner Roads and you have not sent Fire Safe Occidental your forms, please do so immediately so this potentially life saving work can progress smoothly.

Safer West County and Fire Safe Occidental coordinated with Fire Safe Sonoma and Conservation Corp North Bay to get grants to fund the project. Sonoma County is contributing all the traffic control. 

Please plan on travel delays in the project area and watch the crews progress to estimate what sections might impact your travels.
 Opportunities for more chipping
Don’t let the end of burning debris piles stop you from continuing to improve your property’s fire resiliency! The county offers free chipping to Sonoma residents; both as individual property owners and as part of Community chipping days through your Fire Safe Council. The community chipping days have limited space and are done on a first come first serve basis, so make sure you sign up early.

The next Fire Safe Occidental Community days begin on August 23rd. Sign up through David Shatkin, dshatkin@sonic.net. To sign up individually with the county go directly to their website.  Do you know your evacuation zone?
 Click here to find your zone, then make sure everyone in your household knows it (see our last newsletter for ideas on how to remember) and post your zone somewhere easy to find in the event of an emergency.
 Upcoming Occidental Town Hall
w/ Supervisor Hopkins
and other County Officials
July 29, 6pm – 7:30pm

 Next Thursday, July 29th, from 6 – 7:30 pm  is the Occidental (and surrounding areas) time to bring your questions to Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and other County officials. They are coming prepared to discuss the issues that matter to you—so plan to attend. Here are the details:

The meeting will be held on Zoom and on Facebook live, see links below. After the event, videos are available both on Facebook and on YouTube. YouTube Channel can be found under Sonoma County 5th District. Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://sonomacounty.zoom.us/j/91478946822?pwd=cjYvcjhiTlVqUHRFdlZlckhlSkJmQT09
Passcode: 455878

Or One tap mobile: US: +16699009128,,91478946822#  or  +12532158782,,91478946822#

Or Streaming Facebook Live
    – Supervisor Lynda Hopkins https://www.facebook.com/supervisorlyndahopkins/

You will hear from and be able to ask questions of the following people who are planning to update the community on these topics prior to Q&A:

•    Supervisor Lynda Hopkins

•    Occidental/Graton Sanitation update (sewer)
     with Mike Thompson,
     Assistant General Manager of the
     Sonoma County Water Agency

•    Parking and Road issues
     with Johannes Hoevertsz, Director of
     Transportation and Public Works
     •   Parking
     •   One-way street proposal
     •   Temporary structures     •    Use of road yard for events

•    Community Center status
     with David Robinson, Parks Manager
     for Regional Parks

•    Matching grant program
     for local park/bathrooms,
     Ag + Open Space

•    Fire Preparedness including
     •   Drought impact of fire preparations
     •   Evacuation routes (Joy Rd, Willow Creek,…)
     •   Microgrid
     •   Alerts and Communications
     •   Ensuring Fire mitigation does not
          become a free ticket to logging
     •   Homeless/transient fires in forests

•    Cannabis issues

•    Followed by Q&A and Announcements
 
 DONATE TODAY

July 18, 2021

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
July 18, 2021 Newsletter
Update

CANCELLED
NOAA Weather Radio Owners Countywide Alert Test

Due to the fire weather concerns in the North Bay Mountains and the greater Bay Area, the City of Santa Rosa, County of Sonoma, and the National Weather Service Bay Area have decided to CANCEL the emergency alert and warning exercise originally scheduled for Tuesday, July 20. This exercise would have included a NOAA Weather Radio warning alarm system test and a SoCoAlert test in a targeted geographical area in the City of Santa Rosa. This alert and warning exercise will be rescheduled to a later date.

The National Weather Service has elevated the original Fire Weather Watch to a Red Flag Warning for the North Bay Mountains and upper elevations of Sonoma County from Sunday at 5 PM to Monday afternoon. The warning is based on a chance for dry lightning Sunday into Monday. The potential thunderstorms will be a mix of dry and wet, but given how dry the fuels are, any lightning strikes will be problematic. The threat for thunderstorms diminishes Monday afternoon as the moisture moves northward.

The City of Santa Rosa has plans to upstaff additional firefighters and emergency operations needs. This is being done out of an abundance of caution to ensure we are prepared for weather or fire-related type incidents.

WIND: Given the potentially dry nature of thunderstorms gusty and erratic winds will be possible with developed storms.

TIMING: Thunderstorm threat most likely late Sunday afternoon through early Monday afternoon.

LIGHTNING: Isolated to scattered dry thunderstorms will be possible Sunday afternoon through early Monday afternoon.

IMPACTS: Given the dry fuels over the higher elevations, any cloud-to-ground lightning strikes have the potential of starting new wildfires.___
 Remember, stay alert during all Red Flag days.  Refrain from ALL activities that can cause sparks from outdoor flames of any kind, or the use of power tools with metal parts that will cause sparks when they strike a hard object. 

 
 DONATE TODAY

July 16, 20211

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
July 2021 Newsletter

NOAA Weather Radio Owners Countywide Alert Test
The County of Sonoma, City of Santa Rosa, and the National Weather Service Bay Area will conduct an emergency alert and warning exercise comprised of two individual tests on July 20. The effort includes a countywide test of the NOAA Weather Radio warning alarm system as well as a targeted test to Santa Rosa area residents of a text message, email and/or phone call alert test.

The first test, at about noon on July 20, is a test emergency message broadcast to all NOAA Weather Radios (NWR) throughout Sonoma County. The NWR warning alarm will sound one time, then be followed by a short test message, and then a closing alarm tone. This test message will be transmitted as a Civil Emergency Message and the words “Civil Emergency Message” may scroll across the NWR displays of compatible radios. The NWR test cycle will play through only one time.

NWR owners in Safer West County areas should note that Civil Emergency Message alerts are always on, and can’t be turned off, on Midland and Sangean NWRs typically used in the Safer West County area. Thus you will hear this alert test on your NWR. Do not be alarmed, it is a test.

You can read more details here in English and Spanish.
 3 Fires – One avoidable cause!
 This past weekend alone there were 3 fires in the county –luckily all kept small –caused by afternoon mowing during the heat of the day. Please remember not to mow after 10 o’clock in the morning and please take advantage of the morning fog while the humidity is up and always have a water source or a fire extinguisher while conducting your mowing operation.
 “A son (for me) and for G, too,” or remembering your evacuation zone
It’s one thing to Know Your Zone, but how are you going to remember it when it counts? You can — and should — write it down and keep it somewhere for easy reference, like on the front of the refrigerator, or next to your phone charger. But how will you remember it accurately when an alert comes in when you’re standing in line at the grocery store? In that case, a mnemonic can make it easier for your freaked-out brain to remember the random series of letters and numbers that just might save your life.

Mnemonics work by imposing structure on random sequences or bits of information to make them more memorable. Acronyms like ROYGBIV, for example, make it easier to remember the colors in a rainbow, and rhymes like the one that begins “30 days hath September” make it easier to remember how many days in each month. Likewise, a phrase such as the one above which recasts zone SON-4G2 as “a son (for me) and for G, too,” can make it easier to remember your evacuation zone when there’s no room for doubt.

What’s your approach to remembering your evacuation zone? Share your strategy for remembering your zone for a chance to win a go-bag. One winner will be drawn at random and announced in the August newsletter, along with all helpful suggestions that we receive.
 Lessening the effects of the drought on your land
Here is an article written by an Occidental resident and arborist, Marc Dunia, who has been working with our redwood forests for decades that can help you think through how to help your landscape survive the drought: Mulch to the Rescue
  Safer West County and
Fire Safe Occidental in the News…

This recent article in SoCoNews describes some of the ways our two organizations are helping you and your neighbors. 
 Evacuation Drill results
Fire Safe Occidental (FSO) and Fire Safe Camp Meeker (FSCM), in coordination with the Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management participated in an evacuation drill on June 19. About 188 people signed up on the county website to participate, and over 200 people actually participated. We are awaiting the results from 207 people who responded to the county survey that followed the drill. 

The most concerning outcome of the drill was poor communication and drill alerts by the county Emergency Management Department and the county Sheriff Department. Many residents who signed up with the county did not receive the SoCo Alert transmission, and many did not hear the sheriffs’ hi-lo sirens as they drove around the Occidental area. In addition, the siren at the Occidental fire station, which was supposed to have been set off by around 9 a.m., did not go off and had to be manually operated by Chief Ron Lunardi.
 
Both FSO and FSCM are awaiting the results of the after-drill survey and will continue to press the county to improve their communications and future evacuation drills.
 
Upcoming Occidental Town Hall
w/ Supervisor Hopkins
July 29, 6pm – 7:30pm

Please join a virtual town hall with Lynda Hopkins as well as other County officials to answer questions Occidental residents may have. Topics will include downtown parking, community center, public bathrooms, fire preparedness, and more.

Occidental Town Hall – Thursday, July 29, 6pm – 7:30pm

The meeting will be held on Zoom and on Facebook live, links below. After the event, videos are available both on Facebook and on YouTube. YouTube Channel can be found under Sonoma County 5th District. Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://sonomacounty.zoom.us/j/91478946822?pwd=cjYvcjhiTlVqUHRFdlZlckhlSkJmQT09
Passcode: 455878

Or One tap mobile: US: +16699009128,,91478946822#  or  +12532158782,,91478946822#

Or Streaming Facebook Live – Supervisor Lynda Hopkins https://www.facebook.com/supervisorlyndahopkins/
 
 DONATE TODAYStay 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.Subscribe to Safer West County

May 29, 2021

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
June 2021 Newsletter
JUNE 19th Evacuation Drill
Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management, in conjunction with Fire Safe Occidental (FSO), Fire Safe Camp Meeker (FSCM) and Safer West County (SWC) will hold an evacuation drill on June 19th, to practice evacuating our homes and communities in the event of an “immediate” evacuation (i.e. an evacuation in response to a nearby, rapidly-building, wind-driven, take your family and run, wildfire.)

The drill area includes Camp Meeker and Occidental.  The county will mail drill information to residents of Camp Meeker and most of the Occidental Community Services District (OCSD).  Due to Sheriff Department limitations, some OCSD residents will not receive a postcard message, but we are encouraging everyone to sign up for the alerts and to participate. To sign up go to the June 19 Evacuation Drill web page.  Then click on “+ Camp Meeker/Occidental Saturday, June 19th”  and use the Registration button.

To provide both the county and our community with a more realistic evacuation experience, we hope that at least one person from each household participates in the drill.  We want this drill to familiarize everyone with egress routes and help Emergency Management assess their ability to support the swift safe evacuation of people, pets, and livestock.

Around 9 am on June 19th, county sheriffs will drive through the drill areas with Hi-Lo sirens, and the Occidental Volunteer Fire Department will sound their siren–alerting people to immediately evacuate.  These sirens indicate the start of the drill.

NOTE: In an actual disaster you can dial 211 to get a list of shelters including those for special needs.
 New Evacuation Zones 
New Evacuation Zones have been announced by the county.  To find your zone, and make sure everyone in your family knows which zone you are in, go to the Know Your Zone web page. On this page Use The Zone Lookup Tool to Enter your Address and you will be given your zone name.

Save this for future use in emergencies and Use the County’s interactive Evacuation Zone Map to see where boundaries are.

If you are not already signed up for SoCoAlert and Nixle, please click on Sign Up for Alerts on the upper right of this web page.

 Shout out to Catholic Charities CYO camp
 A special shout out to Catholic Charities CYO for their recent fuel reduction work. Over the past 5 weekends, crews have removed and chipped ladder fuel around their large water tank that serves southern Occidental and their camp, plus the area along their internal roads that might provide secondary egress for the community along Mara and Bittner Roads.
 Before clearing around the CYO Water Tank
 After clearing around the CYO Water Tank
 Planning a neighborhood work party?
SWC has hand tools available for neighborhood groups to do volunteer days. We have loppers, hand saws, clippers, rakes, pole saws, sapling pullers, tarps and much more. Our only requirement is that they are returned cleaned, sharpened, and in good working order. Your neighborhood leader should contact us at carolynsell@gmail.com for to arrange using them.
 Coalition of Camps and Large property owners along Bohemian Highway
Recently, Safer West County collaborated with a group of large parcel owners from Monte Rio to Freestone to improve this important evacuation corridor and create defensible space and fuel break areas for firefighters should they need to protect our communities within the surrounding forests.

The effort culminated in grant applications to fund significant fuel reduction projects and has also resulted in a long-term coalition with new members joining the strategic and tactical discussion of how to improve our forest and community resilience now and in the years to come. We are very grateful for the initial participants who hold more than 2600 acres in our area:

●   Alliance Redwoods Conference Grounds
●   Bohemia Ecological Preserve
●   Bohemia Preserve, LLC
●   Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District
●   CYO Camp (Catholic Charities of San Francisco)
●   Green Valley Farm and Mill
●   Harmony School District
●   Mighty Arrow Ranch, LLC
●   Monte Rio Recreation and Park District
●   Mt. Gilead Bible Camp and Conference Center (youth camps and conferences)
●   Sowing Circle, LLC/Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (educational center)
●   St. Dorothy’s Episcopal Camp and Retreat Center (youth camps and conferences)
●   Two Sisters Place (private residence)
●   Westminster Woods (youth camps and conferences)

The collaborative process and grant application was hugely supported by Fire Safe Sonoma, Goldridge RCD, Circuit Riders, and Conservation Corp North Bay, as well as local CAL FIRE and Fire Chiefs from Monte Rio, Graton, Occidental, and Goldridge.
 Fire Safe Occidental News
Residents of Joy, Bittner, Deer Meadow and Willow Creek roads ~ We just learned of a County home hardening and defensible space funding program which is open to individuals on these roads. This is the first such program we have seen which is targeting individual property owners. Please study the map on the SoCOAdapts web page by clicking on the Sonoma County Wildfire Adapted Project Area Map Viewer to determine if you are in the selected area.

The map is detailed enough to see individual parcels if you zoom in. We highly encourage all of you to apply if you are eligible. Cost is one of the huge elements holding many of us back from increasing the safety of our homes. This project is aimed to assist! 

County free chipping will resume in Occidental this month.  Please make sure you have applied for chipping by emailing dshatkin@sonic.net, so we can help facilitate properties close to each other and improve efficiency (and hence number of days we get help!) 
 
 DONATE TODAYStay 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.Subscribe to Safer West County

May 9, 2021

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
Newsletter

May 9, 2021Evacuation Drill!
Save the date!  June 19th!

Fire Safe Occidental and Fire Safe Camp Meeker members have been meeting with County officials for the last year to arrange an evacuation drill for our area.  The date has been confirmed. Details are still being worked out and more information will be available very soon.

Watch for a special edition of the newsletter covering all you need to know and special mailings from the County.  We hope you will all participate and both learn from the experience and teach the county where our traffic hot spots will be in the case of a true immediate evacuation order!
 
End of Burn Pile permits on
May 10th (this coming Monday)

Chief Lunardi shared with Safer West County that the increasing fire danger posed by dead grass and hotter, drier conditions in the region is prompting CAL FIRE to suspend all burn permits for outdoor residential burning within the State Responsibility Areas of Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Solano, Yolo and Colusa counties.

This suspension takes effect Monday May 10th, 2021 and bans all residential outdoor burning of landscape debris such as branches and leaves.  For more details of the CALfire notice go to our Nextdoor post.

Even though you can’t burn you can get FREE Chipping. Gratefully there are piles all around our area that show how hard some of you are working at creating a safer community!  Thank you! These piles can be handled quickly through BAAQ grant with Davey Trees.

You can apply for FREE chipping here. Just fill out the application and also let Safer West County know you have applied by emailing dshatkin@sonic.net, so we can help facilitate logistics for properties close to each other and improve efficiency (and hence number of days we get help!) 
 Volunteer Tools Available
 SWC has tools available for neighborhood groups to use for volunteer workdays. As part of organizing our AmeriCorps team, Safer West County purchased hand tools which are now available for neighborhood groups to borrow. We have loppers, hand saws, clippers, rakes, pole saws, sapling pullers, tarps and much more. Our only requirement is that they are returned cleaned, sharpened and in good order.

Let us know what you are doing…. here is what some neighborhoods have been doing:

Neighborhood # 2 (Dupont) planned a workday to help a resident who just had a stroke. One neighbor offered to pay for a weed-whacking session on the property, and this was carried out prior to a rainy burn-day. The same generous neighbor did a dump run with non-burnable debris. This community has a wonderful closeness and willingness to help each other, and this is a great example of their caring. It’s a beautiful sight to see neighbors are helping neighbors!

Neighborhood # 13 (Bittner and Marra) has started monthly shared workdays. The May workday saw six people helping a neighbor with some physical challenges get inches of duff removed from the area around her water tanks, along with some limbing-up and small tree removal. We also cleared vegetation from around and under her deck. We’re looking forward to our June workday and even more participation from the neighborhood.
 TWO NEW GRANTS
HAVE BEEN AWARDED!

 Work will start early this summer on roadways around Occidental thanks to two grants that have been awarded Fire Safe Occidental & Safer West County for evacuation roadway clearing.

The Conservation Corp of the North Bay will be clearing roadside vegetation back to the full distance allowed by the County easement along stretches of Joy Rd, BittnerRd, and Coleman Valley Rd. The County normally limits their clearing to 5’ from the roadway. Many easements are a full 15’. When CCNB takes down the dead trees, clears ladder fuels and limbs up trees 15’ on either side of the roadway, we will have safer roads for evacuation and approximately 45’ of shaded fuel break on our these roads!  

Information will be sent out to the property owners along the roadways in the next few weeks. Please send the forms back quickly so we can get started as soon as nesting season allows.
 
 DONATE TODAY

May 1, 2021

Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
News Update

May 1, 2021Update on Burn Permits
 Chief Lunardi of the Occidental Volunteer Fire Department has passed on word from Cal Fire that it’s likely that we have one week from this Monday to complete burning any burn piles this year.

As of today, May 1st, 2021, the annual requirement for CAL FIRE burn permits to conduct open burning begins. Burn permits can still be obtained from Cal Fire at burnpermit.fire.ca.gov. It is most likely that burn permit suspension in our area will begin on Monday May 10th.

For piles no larger than 4’x4’, an applicant can go online and watch a video and print their permit.

For larger piles or broadcast burns an inspection will be required before a permit is issued. 

Note, that you also need your local air-quality control district permit in addition to the CalFire permit. The Air-Quality permits expired 3/30 and, if you have not yet done so, you need to renew your permit before you can burn: NoSoCoAir.net for the Northern Sonoma district. This permit is $30 plus a small fee. Note that burn hours have changed to 6:00am to 12 noon.
 Chipping w/ Davey Trees
 Although the County chipping crew will not be back in our area until June, we found another opportunity for you to get free chipping done. Davey Trees is doing the work under a grant from Bay Area Air Quality.

If you have chipping piles ready to chip, contact David Shatkin for more details:  
dshatkin@sonic.net Please support Safer West CountyDONATE TODAY
Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
March 26, 2021 Newsletter
AmeriCorps volunteers are busy
making West County a little bit safer,
one home at a time!

 The past two weeks, 7 homes in West County became a little safer for some of our neighbors. Safer West County equipped five AmeriCorps volunteers with pruners, loppers, rakes, pole saws, bow saws, hard hats, and a wheelbarrow and these volunteers cleared gutters, removed dead debris, moved firewood, and tall plants extending into roof and soffits as well as limbed lower tree branches. Our community will reap rewards from this effort long after the next 9 weeks of work and our goal is to help landowners who cannot do the work themselves and do not have the means to hire help to do it. 

As you know, structures can burn from falling embers igniting things close to our homes even when a wildfire has not reached the area. This is often a bigger risk to our neighborhoods during high wind fires than the front of the wildfire reaching us. That’s why ensuring all our homes are less likely to catch fire is really important. You can learn more about how to improve your home here

One of our first AmeriCorp jobs was to clear massive amounts of vegetation immediately adjacent to a home in Neighborhood #1 for a 94-year-old resident. The Neighborhood Pod Leader not only supervised but stayed for most of the day and helped the crew, as did a second resident. Other neighbors also came by to thank the crew and admire their work. We took numerous truckloads of plant debris to an already large pile in an open pasture. The Neighborhood Leader bought a burn permit for the resident, and we will have our first post-covid get-together in April—a wiener-roast and potluck over burning dried vegetation.

Read to the bottom to see pictures from last week’s efforts and comments from the volunteers and neighbors.Hire a team to help with your
defensible space and fire mitigation efforts.

 We have much more work in our community than will be done by the AmeriCorps volunteers so Safer West County is fortunate to be able to team up with an amazing organization, Circuit Riders (a non-profit), that can not only help you do the work, but is training a group of local youth to be our resource for years to come.

You can get help today by contacting Circuit Riders – click here for details – or see below for more
 Bird nesting –  March 1 to August 31
 As you move into action on your land, remember to care for our flying friends.  Here is a great resource from the Golden Gate Audubon Society on tree care and bird safety:
https://goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/make-the-city-safe-for-wildlife/tree-care-and-bird-safety/

…and laws protecting birds :
https://goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/make-the-city-safe-for-wildlife/tree-care-and-bird-safety/laws-protecting-birds/

Note: Quail nest on the ground in shallow depressions, and also need protecting.  According to Cornell Labs, a preeminent source of bird research, “Female California Quail typically hide their nests on the ground amid grasses or at the bases of shrubs or trees. The nest is usually a shallow depression lined with stems and grasses, and often placed near vegetation or rocks for protection. Nests range from 5-7 inches across and 1-2 inches deep.”
 Chipping
 Free chipping continues in West county both through the Sonoma County program and Davey Trees for Bay Area Air Quality.  If you are ready for help, please contact your Fire Safe Council or email David Shatkin for details dshatkin@sonic.net 
 Experiences from the First Week of
AmeriCorps Defensible Space Work

Here are samplings of some the critical defensible space projects our AmeriCorps team completed the past few weeks on Lauri Ln, Harrison Grade Place, Bohemian Hwy, Facendini Ln, Joy Ridge, Dear Meadow Ln, Harmony Village, Morelli Ln, and Joy Rd.

1. We found large amounts of lumber and firewood close to houses. Our team moved and stacked it away from structures.
 BEFORE – Firewood & Lumber close to house
  AFTER – Firewood & Lumber close to house
 
2. Lots of landscaping near homes was growing up into the eaves often with dead branches and our team trimmed the plants based on the owner’s instructions.
 BEFORE – Plants over roofline
 AFTER – Plants over roofline
 
3. Removing the amount of vegetation right next to the houses.
 BEFORE – Plants growing under structure
 AFTER – Plants growing under structure
 BEFORE – Vegetation right up to house 
 AFTER – Vegetation up to house (still not perfect, but way better than before)
 4. Clearing around propane tanks was another important task at many homes.
 BEFORE – Clearing propane tanks
 AFTER – Clearing propane tanks
  We are still accepting applications for the wonderful service this AmeriCorps team is doing.

 Comments Made the First Week of
AmeriCorps Defensible Space Work

 
– “The Americorp workers did a very good job, worked very hard, and were a friendly group.”  Freestone landowner

– “It has been very gratifying to help people so far in my experience with safer west county. The residents have been so incredibly appreciative of our volunteer work.” -Jake Heil

– “So far working with Safer West County has been such a fulfilling experience. Being able to interact with homeowners and community members allows for us to create a connection with those we are serving. On top of all of that–seeing neighbors come out to help at the properties we are serving shows what incredible people you all have in your communities.” – Kelly Saldarriaga 

– “Everyone of Safer West County has been extremely helpful in guiding us through our first week. The residents as well as their neighbors and friends have also been appreciative and welcoming to the team. They have provided help with tools, guidance, and manual labor.” – Sheyla Gonzalez

– “Working with Safter West County has been my favorite project work since the beginning of my time with AmeriCorps. The people we have worked with have been nothing but grateful about the work we’re doing.” – Daniel Cantrell

– “Everyone we have worked with through Safer West County has been extremely generous and helpful.” – Joseph Davis
 Circuit Rider Community Services
 

 Fire Safe Occidental Fire Safe Occidental was awarded
Best Fire Preparedness Service
in Sonoma County! 

Thanks to everyone who voted for us and gave us this honor!  Please support Safer West CountyDONATE TODAY
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.Subscribe to Safer West County
Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
February 26, 2021 Newsletter
Hello West County!
Thank you, to all who have sent us donations, both large and small.  Your support is greatly appreciated and going to good use. You will read more details further down, but here are just a few of the many things we are doing on your behalf. 
 •    Volunteer trimming assistance.
•    Increases in free chipping programs this year.

•    Continued improvement in our evacuation routes.

•    More reflective green address signs in Occidental and Freestone.

And we continue advocating for support, funds, and other assistance from Sonoma County agencies in regard to roads, alert systems, and other issues critical to West County.

If you haven’t donated, yet. We could use your support. SWC is a 501.C.3 and your donation is tax deductible.DONATE TODAYOr send a check to Safer West County at: 
PO Box 989, Occidental, CA 95465
 Volunteer Help with Defensible Space
 Safer West County secured volunteer trimming assistance in collaboration with Saint Dorothy’s Rest and AmeriCorps from March to mid-May.  Volunteers will be housed at Saint Dorothy’s for 10 weeks during which time they will be doing volunteer work split between Saint Dorothy’s, Redwood Food Bank, and Safer West County. Volunteers will be using hand tools (loppers, pole saws, and clippers) to remove dead branches and dangerous fuels within the first 30 feet of homes (no power tools). The volunteers will also be able to move debris to the street for later chipping in our free chipping programs. To apply for volunteer trimming help contact your neighborhood leader, or email us at info@saferwestcounty.org Because of the volume of potential work in West County, we are asking applicants to be both physically and financially unable to complete needed defensible space work themselves. Applicants must be members of their local Fire Safe Council, and have a recommendation from their neighborhood leader, if there is one, or their Fire Safe Council Steering Committee. While this will be a limited program, we are thrilled to start providing help for those in our community who really need it. AmeriCorps sends volunteers three times a year to Saint Dorothy’s and we are hopeful that success with this program will enable us to continue it to help more and more residents.

We will be purchasing clippers, loppers, and pole saws for this program and would appreciate any donations to assist us in providing this service to our community. (We are accepting monetary and tool donations, or even a small trailer to house the tools).

Most of us will continue to limb and trim our properties on our own to make our land more fire resilient and our homes safer, and as we are your neighbors and also engaged in this task, we know from our own experiences that this task is daunting. SWC will continue looking for ways to supplement your efforts, and in the meantime, we want to suggest you support an amazing local organization—Circuit Rider. They are training at risk youth in fire mitigation specific landscape skills and can assist your efforts with a trained equipped crew. 
 Expanded Free Chipping Program
 Free chipping resumes the first week of March. Each Fire Safe Council (Bodega, Camp Meeker, Freestone, Occidental, and West Sebastopol) is now coordinating free chipping for their area to help you reduce the debris created from your defensible space and fuel mitigation work. In addition to continuing the immense amount of chipping we were able to get from Sonoma County last year, in 2021 we also have access to a Bay Area Air Quality (BAAQ) grant with Davey Trees providing the free chipping. The Davey Trees chipping program will be available for residents in West Sebastopol, Freestone, Bodega, and a limited area of southern Occidental. The County program will cover the entire Safer West County area. Both the County and Davey Trees has asked us to help coordinate chipping to ensure the work is done efficiently—scheduling properties close together in the same days. To apply email saferwestcounty@gmail.com with your name, email, physical address, phone and approximate date you’ll be ready for chipping. We will forward your info the coordinator in your area and they will reach out to you with further details.
Improving the Safety of Our Evacuation Routes
Safer West County and each of our community’s Fire Safe Councils continue to put a high priority on improving our evacuation routes in the event that we need to leave quickly. The areas we focus on are road quality (including work to increase turnouts on narrow roads), signage, and removing dangerous fuel loads from the immediate roadsides.

Recently, SWC received a $150,000+ grant in collaboration with Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) and Fire Safe Sonoma to clear dangerous fuels along four miles of critical evacuation routes in Occidental.  You will see CCNB crews on Joy, Coleman Valley, and Bitner Roads in the coming months. Now we are expanding that effort with new grant applications for Camp Meeker, Freestone, and West Sebastopol roads.

The work will entail raising the height of the lowest tree limbs to above 15 feet and removing ladder fuel below trees to reduce the likelihood of fire coming directly up to the sides of the roads. This will improve safety for us in evacuations and for fire-fighters fighting a fire.  It also creates shaded fuel breaks to slow fires and help fire-fighters stop a fire from advancing. CCNB will be working along County right of ways; but our goal is to have the work go back 15 feet from either side of the road to be most effective. We will be sending out notices to property owners in the work zone requesting permission to do the work to the full 15 feet before the work begins.
 Get involved
Safer West County is growing, and we have succeeded at being awarded a number of grants to help our communities, which is great for us all.  It also requires additional support to manage so we are seeking two volunteers from the community to help as an admin assistant and a bookkeeper. Volunteers will be providing less than 5-10 hours per month. Administrative Assistant will be responsible for approximately 3 hours attending monthly meetings (1.5 hours first Tuesdays 3:30 – 5 pm) and follow-up work between meetings producing agendas and meeting notes, plus helping SWC organize our data and files. Bookkeeper will assist Treasurer in reconciling donations and grant monies, including tracking expenses against grants, and other grant related requirements. Please contact Elizabeth Lawson if you are interested at elsbethlawson@comcast.net.
 Please support Safer West CountyDONATE TODAYStay 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.Subscribe to Safer West County
Safer West County Fire Safe Groups
January 29, 2021 Newsletter
We hope you are enjoying the rain as much as we are at Safer West County (SWC). Our newsletters are now coming from SWC to the communities of Occidental, Bodega, Camp Meeker, Freestone, and Western Sebastopol. Here is what to expect in our new format.We will start the newsletter with items that affect all our communities from emergency preparedness to fire mitigation and more.
 At the end of each newsletter, you will find topics and announcements specific to each of our individual communities, so make sure you read all the way through for items that directly affect your area.

 Burning debris
 With the rainy season in full swing, many residents will elect to burn debris collected from working on their property to make it more fire resilient. With this important tool comes significant responsibility and while many of you have been doing this practice for decades, we ask that you rethink your methods and make sure you are using the best practices since risk of fire spread has grown significantly over the past 20 years and what worked then is truly riskier now. Here are a few key reminders, and for a full list of do’s and don’ts please visit 
https://www.nosocoair.net/home.html or 
https://www.baaqmd.gov/permits/open-burn,
depending on your location.

You will need to have purchased a permit and that permit will have all the rules plus phone numbers to call in order to register your burn the day of doing one. In Northern SoCo district check to ensure it is a burn day by calling (707-565-2876) and register your burn by pressing 1. You must adhere to the burn hours printed on your permit.Make sure you are burning in an area clear of debris and without overhanging tree limbs that could catch when hot ash rises from the flames.
 Keep your fires small (no larger than 4′ x 4′ x 4′)
 All material must be dried: at least 7 days for weed, 15 days for brush, vines, pruning & small branches, 30 days for trees and branches over 6″ in diameter. You may not burn anything other than brush, branches and weeds.
 Have water (hose or buckets) readily available in case the fire gets away from pile
 Able bodied adults MUST be present at all times until the fire is dead out.
 This information is printed on the back of your permit. They are not arbitrary rules. Violating them risks losing your permit and right to renew.

 Limb, trim, and reduce fuel
 Many of us like to use the winter to remove fuel load on our property because we can safely burn the debris created from our work. It is important to remember that bird nest season is between March 1st and August 31st so your work needs to happen now or wait until after our friends of flight have time to raise their young. This leaves only a month to do any big projects.

 Creating an active neighborhood group
 We encourage you to form an active neighborhood group, if your neighborhood isn’t already doing this. Many neighborhoods in the Fire Safe Occidental area have benefited from their connections in ways beyond what they expected. Here are just a few of the many benefits you can expect by organizing:
 Getting to know more people in your neighborhood.
 Coordinating neighborhood workdays to improve your road for potential evacuation.
 Creating a contact list so you can easily communicate with each other, especially in an emergency.
 Having people who will know if you have animals in an evacuation if one occurred when you were not at home.
 Knowing if there are people with special needs on your street who might need help during an evacuation.
 Knowing who has generators and can help with medicine or food refrigeration during a power shutoff.
 Knowing who has adequate water storage for sharing water during a power shutoff.
 Having more fun! Pole Mountain
 Our friends at Pole Mountain Lookout in Cazadero have submitted a permit to the county to build a lookout tower on Pole Mountain to help us all in West County stay safer. You may want to donate to their cause or learn more at
 PoleMountainLookout.org

 Fire Safe Camp Meeker News

 Fire Safe Camp Meeker is actively working with Goldridge RCD to complete our Community Wildfire Protection Plan.  This plan is a summation of over a year’s work to create a roadmap for improving the safety of Camp Meeker by identifying our key risks, creating priority projects to mitigate those risks, and setting ourselves up for obtaining outside funding for many of the needed projects.  We will keep you posted.

 Fire Safe Occidental News
 Green reflective address signs have been delivered by neighborhood leaders.  You probably have started noticing the new signs going up around town. Try to mount them on a metal pole (won’t burn) close to your driveway entrance so emergency personnel will easily see them when looking for your address. If you have not received your sign and you live in the OCSD, we will be distributing and/or listing signs for reorder at the Occidental Fire Station on two upcoming dates Saturday, Feb. 6 and Friday Feb. 12 from 1-3:30 pm. If you can’t stop by and haven’t picked up your sign, notify Carolyn Sell at carolynsell@gmail.comNeighborhood GroupsEach area of Occidental has been grouped into a numbered neighborhood for ease of organizing. Many of our Occidental neighborhoods are very active, but we have a few areas that could use a few volunteers to help get the ball rolling.  Let us know how we can help by contacting Carolyn Sell (carolynsell@gmail.com). Do you live in one of the areas below and have time to help organize you and your neighbors? It doesn’t take a lot of time and is so worth the effort. 
Graton and Green Hill
(Neighborhood 4)


Occidental Rd. east
(Neighborhood 5)


Occidental Rd. west and Frati Ln.
(Neighborhood 6) 

This area has a new resident interested in helping, so you won’t be doing it alone.

Willow Creek
(Neighborhood 12)

There are already neighbors involved, just need someone to be our main contact.

Joy Rd. between 3000 and Coleman Valley Rd. plus Deer Meadow Ln.
(Neighborhood 15)

 Fire Safe Freestone News
 Our Freestone group has been busy organizing.  We now have a volunteer to organize the County’s free chipping service to support residents in clearing debris and making their land more fire resilient.  Be on the lookout for info in the coming month on this project.

We ordered green reflective address signs from the Gold Ridge Fire Department on behalf of more than 20 neighbors who were happy to have someone take the initiative and whose homes will now be easier to find by emergency personnel, if ever needed.

Freestone now has three early adopters of NOAA Emergency Radios. These radios provide backup emergency alerts in the event of a power outage or middle of the night alert and if dispersed throughout the community help us all stay safer. We are hoping to get more volunteers. 

 Fire Safe West Sebastopol News
To our neighbors in West Sebastopol and the Goldridge Fire District, a Fire Safe Council is finally getting organized!

What can be accomplished is evident from the outstanding momentum built by Fire Safe Occidental (FSO). They have:Organized neighborhoods to support home hardening, creating defensible space, and ensuring reception of emergency notifications and adequacy of evacuation routes.
 Identified high risk forested and grassland areas and worked to reduce risk.
 Raised resources to provide adequate signage and clear roadways of fire hazards.
 Submitted several grants to secure resources for mitigation work.
 Established relationships with the County to get work done and problems solved.
 Created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation, Safer West County, to support these efforts.
 Our Fire Safe Council can accomplish similar aims for our neighborhoods.

We, along with Bodega, Freestone, and Camp Meeker have joined Occidental and are all part of Safer West County —working closely together learning from each other!

If you live in the West Sebastopol area, we need you and here is how you can contribute:    1. We seek volunteers who are willing to lead or work on this effort.
    2. We seek neighborhood leaders who are willing to organize their neighbors; this is where the fun happens and success achieved.
We look forward to your participation and feedback. We know that some neighborhoods already have formed groups. We hope to join with and support these efforts. We must act together.

Please contact us at WestSebC3@gmail.com

 Please support Safer West CountyDONATE TODAY
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.Subscribe to Safer West County
Fire Safe Occidental – January11, 2021 NewsletterIn today’s newsletterSafer West County newsSeeking volunteers to test emergency alert systems across our areaPrescribed burn and fire ecology online workshopSafer West County
Fire Safe Occidental, in coordination with Safer West County, is expanding our influence to surrounding areas to create a safe and connected West County from south of the Russian River south, east of the coast, north of Bodega Highway and west of Sebastopol. The communities now served by Safer West County include:West SebastopolFreestoneBodegaOccidentalCamp Meeker
Safer West County (a 501 C.3) is actively seeking representatives from Bodega Bay, Monte Rio, and Forestville. Our board will be tackling issues around better emergency alert systems, evacuation planning, emergency training of residents, as well as watershed health and fire resiliency.
 
Fire Safe Occidental will continue to focus on fire related issues and community resiliency within the Occidental Community Services District as well as continuing to support engaged neighborhoods—where so much of the work actually takes place!
 
If you are interested in helping with educational programs, newsletters, social media, data base management, web site management, grant research and writing, or even bookkeeping—please reach out.  Whether it is a one-time project or ongoing involvement, your valuable input will benefit us all. We need you!

 Volunteers for Alert Testing 
Sonoma County will be conducting a test in our area to better understand where the pockets are that may not receive adequate alerts in an emergency.  We would like volunteers across the Occidental area to get the best data for this test.  The test will be held on February 4, at 6:30 PM and requires volunteers to be home at the time of the test to determine reception in their area. We are especially interested in participants with poor or no cell reception. If you can help, please contact David Shatkin at dshatkin@sonic.net.

 Excellent Fire Ecology Training Opportunity
There is an upcoming town hall meeting about the value and uses of prescribed fire on Friday, January 15 from 7:00-8:30pm. 

This will be a web-based community meeting with panel discussion featuring local experts from fire agencies, ecological organizations and The Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District relating to prescribed burning. In this hour and a half event, the first thirty minutes will include panel presentations by expert representatives. After the panel discussion, a moderator will facilitate a question-answer session.
Please feel free to share this invitation widely to all that may be interested. Sign up using this Eventbrite link:
 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bodega-town-hall-prescribed-burning-tickets-136035559019 The meeting will take place on Zoom. The zoom link will be shared by email to all participants on Friday, January 15 no later than 1:00pm.

Please if you have any questions email Brian Peterson at brian.peterson@egret.org Brian Peterson
Fire Ecologist, Fire Forward

Audubon Canyon Ranch
P.O. Box 1195, Glen Ellen, CA 95442
C: 541-261-8279
brian.peterson@egret.org
WEB: egret.org/fire-forwardPlease support Fire Safe Occidental and
Safer West County
DONATE TODAY

December 2, 2020

Fire Safe Occidental – December, 2020 Newsletter

Today, on #GivingTuesday

Fire Safe Occidental is asking everyone in our area, to help us create a safer more connected area.

Make a 100% tax deductible donation to Safer West County

and support our efforts to reduce fire fuel and improve emergency preparedness.

It’s a mission that can save lives, protect property, and help us be resilient as a community.

Every dollar will help!

DONATE TODAY

What we have been up to…

Fire Safe Occidental (FSO) is so very grateful for all the support and collaboration that has helped us make progress towards making Occidental a safer and more connected community in 2020. Despite the crazy year with many distractions that could have thwarted our efforts, so much got done.

  • Free Chipping – Many, many of you did significant work on your properties and FSO was able to get multiple weeks of free chipping from the county chipping program to reduce our fuel load. This program has chipped hundreds of wood piles on many properties. The Sonoma County chipping program will return to the Occidental community sometime in late December. As you are preparing your piles, be prepared for the possibility of more rain making it harder for their equipment to get off the street, piles must be easily accessible from roads or driveways. To sign up and for more information, please contact David Shatkin by emailing him at dshatkin@sonic.net.
  • Evacuation Routes – FSO was able to direct county resources to our most vulnerable evacuation routes clearing high brush and grasses from the sides of many of our roads. At least nine of our sixteen Neighborhoods now have at least one secondary egress route established (where needed). We will continue to work on community awareness and the marking of these routes for additional safety during a possible evacuation. On the longest dead-end streets, we are continuing to try to find additional routes.
  • Go Bags – Lynda Hopkins office provided FSO 100 free go-bags that we distributed throughout our

community.

  • Alert systems – We received a small Sonoma County grant to purchase NOAA alert radios to distribute across Occidental to community volunteers as a backup emergency alert system. Volunteers agree to monitor their radios and contact their immediate neighborhoods in the event of an emergency. Thanks to those who volunteered for this important task!
  • Address signs – We also earned a grant of $11,000 from Cal Fire Foundation to pay for ALL properties in the Occidental area to have green reflective address signs at each driveway to ensure easier access by first responders in any emergency. We should receive these in the next week or two and will be distributing them through your neighborhood leaders. Please mount them as soon as you get them since they will help responders find your home in any emergency, not just fire. If we missed your sign or there is an error, a small reorder will be placed near the beginning of the year.
  • FSO completed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, or CWPP which can be found here which is the beginning of understanding the needs and risks in our community so that we can best direct money and efforts where they will make the most difference. This was a vital step in order for us to secure future grants that will help us fund many efforts that we might not otherwise be able to do.
  • More grants – Because of our CWPP efforts, we have now begun to apply for significant grants, including one in collaboration with California Conservation Corp/North Bay and Fire Safe Sonoma for over $200,000 to improve

shaded fuel breaks along key evacuation routes in Occidental. This grant will include money to limb up the tree canopy near roads, chip the limbed material and the county matching funds to manage traffic during the work.

Beyond just Occidental…

Because fires and other emergencies don’t pay attention to political boundaries, we expanded our view to eco- systems, watersheds and infrastructure systems— creating a larger non-profit called Safer West County (SWC). SWC is aimed at looking at fire and emergency preparedness beyond the Occidental district boundaries. This non-profit is expanding our efforts and will magnify our results by collaboration with surrounding communities of Camp Meeker, Goldridge, Freestone, and Bodega with hopes to expand to all communities within West County.

With that in mind, newsletters in 2021 will come from Safer West County in collaboration with FSO sister organizations in these neighboring areas to multiply our results.

Other important news…

Burning debris –

  • Winter is the perfect time to reduce fuel loads on our property. Start close to your home creating defensible space and work your way out. Over the past years we have found amazing resources for you to learn more about the most effective ways at protecting your home and property which you can find here. Over the winter, be on the lookout for more resources coming your way on

this.

  • Because of the air quality effects of burning, FSO will continue to find resources to help us chip instead of burn whenever and wherever possible.
  • After the well celebrated recent rains, Cal Fire has lifted their burn ban. However, all residents must have a local burn permit in order to use burning as a means of reducing fuel load. Please remember to apply for you permits at https://www.nosocoair.net/permits.html and please review the key criteria to safe burning, including keeping burn piles to no larger than 4 x 4 feet to ensure small flames that will not ignite surround trees and brush.

Request from our Fire Fighters

If you see a dangerous situation, please call 911 and make sure you are not in the way of our trained responders from getting to the situation as fast as possible. Many people in their efforts to help actually impede fire fighters and others from doing the work they are best trained to do.

Help us help you…

Fire Safe Occidental and Safer West County continues to grow in both our impact and our reach. While it has been a work of passion for many of us, it has also been a great joy to become more connected to our community and to be part of an organization with so many talented people. Come join us for the reward of being part of something important to the area’s future and for the fun of getting to know the amazing community you live in—your exact background and skills are needed as we grow!

Ways you can get involved might be helping us draft newsletters and press releases, researching and finding grants, political outreach, organizing neighborhoods, creating a one-time educational program on a topic you know, setting up a database of resources, updating our website, posting on social media, organizing a fund raiser… the list is only limited by our imagination. How would you like to contribute? Let us know at firesafeoccidental@gmail.com.

And of course, we always welcome donations to help fund our efforts. You can make a tax-deductible donation to Safer West County today!

DONATE TODAY

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Stay safe and keep in touch. Fire Safe Occidental is always looking for people who can get involved or ideas you may have about how we can best serve our community.

Subscribe to FireSafe Occidental

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