February 2021
Show Your First Responders Love -- Be #wildfireready!
This February, show your appreciation to fire prevention personnel, firefighters and first responders by preparing for wildfire before disaster strikes. Remember that the best steps you can take occur far in advance of a wildfire emergency or other disaster. See what the first responders in your community find is top priority and show your support by taking action now!
“The protection of life, property and the environment are the key priorities that the fire service focuses on when responding to fires. From a wildfire perspective, the most important thing residents can do to protect themselves, neighbors and their assets is to create and maintain defensible space around their homes and structures along with fire hardening buildings to resist oncoming fires.”
  • Chief James Williams, County of Sonoma Fire Marshal and Fire Safe Sonoma Board Member.
"The most important thing is to be ready to go because life is more important than property."
  • Roberta MacIntyre, FSS Board President and Retired County of Sonoma Fire Marshal.
Truly take the time to learn what improvements you an make to your property and home to help prevent the spread of wildfires, use the resources we offer to guide you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, involve all members of your household in the development or review of your emergency plans so everyone knows what to do when the unexpected happens.
  • Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal and Fire Safe Sonoma Board Member.
Wildland Home Assessment Training
Join us Tuesday, February 9 and Friday, February 12 for a free Wildland Fire Assessment Program (WFAP) virtual training brought to you by Fire Safe Sonoma and the Oakmont Community!

What
This two-session virtual course is free and open to anyone wishing to learn more about wildfire home assessments; including fire department personnel, Citizens Organized and Prepared for Emergencies (COPE), homeowners’ associations (HOAs), and Fire Safe Councils.

When

SESSION 1

Module 1 – Classroom Session
Tuesday, February 9, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Learn the fundamentals of conducting a home assessment and how to work with residents to make their property more resilient to wildfires.

Module 2 – Self-driven
View actual home evaluations of three homes in the community to gain a better understanding of how home assessments are conducted.


SESSION 2
Module 3 – Classroom Session
Friday, February 12, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Learn more about the fundamentals of assessing a residence including how to work with residents to make their property more fire-resilient.

Module 4 – Self-driven
Take the online test to receive a certificate of completion.


Questions? Contact Fire Safe Sonoma Board President Roberta MacIntyre at inspect2901@gmail.com.
Partner Highlight: Sonoma Ecology Center
The Sonoma Ecology Center works to address challenges related to water supply and quality, open space, rural character, biodiversity, energy, climate change, and a better quality of life for all Sonoma County residents. Since 1990, they have worked to increase appreciation and stewardship of Sonoma Valley’s natural heritage and create measurable benefits in areas of land, water, climate change and biodiversity.

Their mission is to work with our community to identify and lead actions that achieve and sustain ecological health in Sonoma Valley. In response to the catastrophic fires that have impacted the region, Fire Safe Sonoma and the Sonoma Ecology Center have been working in closer partnership to educate residents on the importance of fire resilient landscaping.
Firewise and Beautiful Landscaping
Did you know that you can have a fire-ready defensible space that is also great wildlife habitat, beautiful landscaping, and water-conserving? Ellie Insley, Sonoma Ecology Center Board Vice President breaks down landscaping in the defensible space zone on the Fire Safe Sonoma's website here!

We also asked SEC Board and Staff what their #1 piece of advice is for those who want to make their landscaping more fire resilient. See their responses below!
Q: What's your #1 piece of advice to residents who want to make their landscaping and gardens more fire resilient?

Caitlin Cornwall, Senior Project Manager: Your house is probably the most flammable thing on your property. There’s not a lot of point in changing your landscaping unless and until you have hardened your home and the area about 5 feet around your home.

Ellie Insley, Board Vice President & Secretary: You can have a fire-ready defensible space that is also great wildlife habitat, beautiful landscaping, and water-conserving.
More Fire Resilient Landscaping Resources
Looking for more resources on making your landscaping more fire resilient this winter? Sustainable Defensible Space is a great resource to help property owners think about eco-appropriate homescaping for wildfire resilience.

For Sonoma County-specific resources, check out this matrix for more information on native plant choices for fire resilient gardens, their wildlife value, and maintenance needs. Also, be sure to check out the Resilient Landscapes Coalition, a partnership between Sonoma Ecology Center, UC Master Gardner Program of Sonoma County, and the Habitat Corridor Project to encourage firewise landscape design in the defensible space zone.

Be sure to visit Fire Safe Sonoma’s YouTube channel for a recorded webinar on how to make your property firewise and beautiful! CAL FIRE’s Low Cost Retrofit List has some suggestions on maintaining defensible space, and Fire Safe Marin also has a plethora of great information on their YouTube Channel. Last, check out Mendocino County Fire Safe Council video on DIY defensible space.
Fire Safe Sonoma Updates
FSS Approves Seed Money for Ecological Vegetation Management Best Practices
At the January Fire Safe Sonoma Board Meeting, the Board approved $1000 in seed funding to the Sonoma Ecology Center to create an initial technical advisory committee to research existing practices and find additional funding sources to support the drafting of Sonoma County-specific, ecologically-sound best management practices. The seed funds are an important first step to create best management practices to train crews doing vegetation management to ensure that plants, once removed, don’t come back stronger than before.
Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Update
Save the date for the upcoming County of Sonoma Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Update Public Kick-off Meeting on Tuesday, February 16th at 7 pm! Learn about what a Community Wildfire Protection Plan is, the importance of the update and how to stay involved in the process.

Register at the following link: http://ow.ly/CWsi50DqBil
Introducing our SSU Intern Team!

We are thrilled to announce that two Sonoma State University student interns will be joining our team this spring! We welcome SSU students Marvin and Sophia, who will work on an intern team and will assist both Fire Safe Sonoma and Gold Ridge RCD on a number of different projects ranging from social media campaigns to video editing, to storytelling, and more!

Read about them below!
Marvin Hernandez
Hello! I’m Marvin and I’m currently a senior student at Sonoma State University. In my free time you can normally see me lounging around, catching up on my favorite reality shows. I’m an avid lover of boba tea and good music. I’m excited to be interning for Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District and Fire Safe Sonoma in my final semester. I’m majoring in Communication Studies and hope to eventually transition to a career in television or production. 
Sophia Tsue
Hi! My name is Sophia Tsue and I am a second year at Sonoma State University! I am currently in the Hutchins Liberal Studies program where I am working towards my BA in Liberal Arts and my teaching credential. I am looking for more ways to incorporate education into other fields, such as environmental conservation. I am beyond excited to be working with Gold Ridge RCD and Fire Safe Sonoma this semester! In my free time I like to cook, crochet, water my plants, and play with my dog!
Local Partnerships

This week marks our first meeting of local Fire Safe Councils, COPEs and other fire safe communities in Sonoma County to share best practices and discuss important topics in wildfire prevention. We plan to host several co-created meetings per year. Are you part of a Fire Safe Council, COPE, CERT or similar fire alliance and would like to learn more? Email Cailin Notch at firesafesonomastaff@gmail.com.
GrizzlyCorps Application

Fire Safe Sonoma has applied to be a partner organization with GrizzlyCorps. GrizzlyCorps is a new AmeriCorps program launched in 2020 and designed by Project Climate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment in partnership with California Volunteers

As a Partner organization, Fire Safe Sonoma hopes to be assigned a GrizzlyCorps Fellow to support fire resilience for the upcoming 11-month 2021-2022 term.

Do you know a recent college graduate interested in becoming a GrizzlyCorps Fellow? Scroll down to learn more!
Grant Applications
Listos & California Fire Safe Council Toolkit Cache

In January Fire Safe Sonoma applied for a grant by Listos California and the California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) for a custom trailer and $10,000 stipend to purchase tools to complement Sonoma County’s chipper and defensible space program. If selected, the grant would expand Fire Safe Sonoma’s capacity to support chipping and defensible space efforts. Award notifications will be announced later this month.

PG&E Vegetation Management Funding

This month, Fire Safe Sonoma is working with Safer West County, Fire Safe Occidental and Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) to apply for PG&E funding to perform roadside fuels reduction in West Sonoma County. The funding will support important vegetation management efforts along County of Sonoma roads, providing safer exit routes in the event of an emergency and creating strategic shaded fuel breaks.
Fire Safe Sonoma Annual Business Meeting
This month, the Fire Safe Sonoma Board will gather during the organization’s annual business meeting to set goals for the next year. Therefore, there will be no public board meeting in February. Instead, we look forward to convening with the public at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday, March 8th at 3:30 p.m. RSVP here and select the March 8th meeting.
Other Announcements + Events
Remote Pile Burn Workshop
The Pepperwood Preserve is planning a remote pile burn workshop on Saturday March 3/13, 10 am - 12 pm. Learning Objectives of the workshop include:
  • The importance of fuels management.
  • How to construct a burn pile.
  • How to safely burn the pile in an area where plumbed water is unavailable.

The workshop is limited to 12 people. Please note that the workshop may be canceled due changing restrictions due to stay-at-home orders or weather.

For more information contact Devyn Friedfel at dfriedfel@pepperwoodpreserve.org.
Fire Safe Camp Meeker Receives Grant
This January, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District applied for and received $3,000 in funds and outreach materials to assist Fire Safe Camp Meeker with community education around fire prevention and management in Camp Meeker. Outreach materials include a canopy with the FSCM logo, signage, educational materials and swag. This grant was awarded by Listos California and the California Fire Safe Council's 20 Listos Outreach Toolkits Program. Fire Safe Camp Meeker is excited to use these tools to increase their visibility and impact in the community. 
North Bay Forest Improvement Program
The NBFIP is an incentives program, similar to CFIP or EQIP, that is being offered by The Rebuild North Bay Foundation in partnership with the RCDs representing Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa Counties.

The program is intended for forest landownerships between 5 and 500 acres and will help reimburse costs associated with common forest improvements like thinning, planting, pruning, site prep, and woody residue follow-up treatments. Quality applications will likely already have a forest management plan prepared by an RPF or NRCS conservationist, however the program also has funds for management plan preparation in Mendocino and Lake counties within census-designated disadvantaged communities. Project areas funded for work with the CFIP program since 2018, thus utilizing funds from Proposition 68, are ineligible for funding under this program at this time.
 
For more information please see the following links:
Wildfire Relief for Ranchers
If your ranching operation incurred damage due to fires in the last three years, you may apply for NRCS's EQIP funding (Environmental Quality Incentives Program). Typical conservation practices for fire recovery include: 
·     Forest Stand Improvement 
·     Woody Residue Treatment  
·     Tree/shrub Establishment  
·     Range Planting  
·     Livestock infrastructure (Fence and watering facilities) - does not include parameter fencing 
·     Invasive weed control/Brush Management  
·     Mulching  
·     Critical Area Planting  
·     Access Road  
·     Stream Crossing  
Contact the NRCS office in Petaluma. 
707-794-1242 x3 
If your ranching operation incurred damage due to the fires in 2020, you have a deadline coming up to apply for funding for parameter fencing. Farm Service Agency's Emergency Conservation Program extended their deadline to March 1.  
Rehabilitate farmland and conservation structures damaged by natural disasters including:  
·     Debris removal  
·     Fence repair/replacement 
·     Conservation structures such as irrigation systems, tanks, livestock water systems  
Contact the FSA office in Petaluma right away to determine if you are eligible and to get your application started.  
707-794-1242 x2 
Call for Fellow Applications
CivicSpark

Are you a young person who is passionate about promoting resiliency and equity in California? Then the CivicSpark Fellowship could be the program for you! From September 2021 to August 2022, over 100 Fellows will bring energy, commitment, and drive to serve with local organizations and agencies to support community resilience projects across California.

CivicSpark Fellow applications for the 2021-22 Service year
OPEN March 1!

Priority Application Deadline will be March 30. 

Register for an upcoming informational webinar and visit the website to learn more about the program and how you can support communities in California!
GrizzlyCorps

GrizzlyCorps is dedicated to helping rural communities plan for and implement two of the most promising solutions to the climate crisis: regenerative agriculture and forest resilience. During the upcoming September 2021 -August 2022 service year, GrizzlyCorps Fellows will be placed in rural farming or forest communities around California to work on projects that support regenerative agriculture or forest resilience. Fellows gain valuable career experience in cutting edge climate work, develop professional contacts, receive a monthly stipend, and earn a $10,000 educational award. GrizzlyCorps is looking for upcoming and recent college graduates who want to gain real-world experience in the sustainability and resilience fields, and make a lasting impact. GrizzlyCorps Priority Application is open and currently accepting applicants. For more information find an FAQ on our website or contact us directly at michelle.feng@berkeley.edu

County of Sonoma Updates
Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Meeting Plan
The public meeting for the Sonoma County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Meeting Plan will be held on Thursday, February 25th from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm via Zoom Webinar. Registration details, including the agenda and zoom log-in information, will be available by 2/22/2021 on the project website.
 
Overview of meeting: The County of Sonoma, and participating jurisdictions, are in the process of updating its Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2020-2021 per the five-year update cycle required by FEMA and the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. They are hosting multiple public meetings to discuss this plan and the process for the community to provide input. In this first public meeting, they will present information on the natural hazards and vulnerabilities in the County and ways the team will gather public input to inform risk reduction strategies. While this meeting will be held in the work week during the day, future meetings will be held in the evening and/or the weekend to reach out to as many members of the community as possible. They will have a real-time Spanish translator available and the meeting will be recorded, then posted on the project website. Please contact Lisa Hulette at Lisa.Hulette@sonoma-county.org with any questions. 
County Chipper Program Update
The County of Sonoma Roadside Chipper program was implemented in 2014 and has supported hundreds of county residents in creating defensible space around their homes. Since the program’s inception, there has been an increase in the use of the program by county residents working towards increased fire safety. Last year, the free roadside chipper program started on May 4, 2020 and continues to operate based on available budget, which is driven by community demand for the service. The program operates on a “first come, first served basis”. The budget was initially funded in July 2021 at $170,000 for the Fiscal Year 2020/2021 but during budget deliberations one-time adjustments were made to the budget and the Fiscal Year started with $400,000.
 
In addition, in September 2020 the Sonoma County BOS allocated an additional one-time $150,000 to the annual chipper budget to increase program capacity. To date, 933 jobs have been completed. The program will be in operation until January 15, 2021. At that point equipment maintenance and program review will occur during the month of February. The program will start operating again on March 1, 2021. For further information and to sign up for the program, go to Permit Sonoma's website here.
Make Your Voice Heard!
The County has started the process of updating the Countywide Hazard Mitigation Plan, this time undertaking a Multi-Jurisdictional approach to develop a cohesive plan. As a part of this process, a community survey has been launched to help better understand residents’ knowledge of and preparedness levels for local hazards including floods, fire, and earthquakes.

The survey was published in both English and Spanish and takes 8-10 minutes to complete.

For more information about the Plan update and partner jurisdictions you can visit the project website.
Donate!

If creating a more fire resilient Sonoma County is important to you, please consider donating to Fire Safe Sonoma. Thank you for your support!
Images provided by Cailin Notch, Roberta MacIntyre, Sonoma Ecology Center, Marvin Hernandez, Sophia Tsue and Fire Safe Marin.