Marin Wildfire agency outlines $20 million worth of projects

The Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority has developed a plan for 2022-2023 that proposes more than $20 million for more than 100 fire fuel reduction and defensible space projects.

The agency is expected to approve proposals after July 1, when funding for new fiscal year projects becomes available, said Mark Brown, the chief executive.

The plan sets goals in five key areas: vegetation management and forest fire prevention; detection, alert and evacuation; subsidies; public awareness and education; and defensible space and home hardening.

The proposals include 23 projects totaling more than $4.5 million across the county. They also include $2 million for 20 projects at Novato; $2 million for 21 projects in San Rafael; $1.8 million for 22 projects in downtown Marin; $1.44 million for 23 projects in South Marin; and $827,000 for 15 projects in West Marin.

Initiatives include $4 million for home reinforcement and defensible space assessments; 83 miles of fuel cuts at Ross Valley and Novato; maintenance of large open spaces and current fuel cuts; expansion of a grant program that offers $5,000 for home reinforcement and $1,000 for defensive space projects; investment in a model analyzing the security impact of hardening at home; and acoustic warning systems for evacuation and notifications.

“We take a systems approach. It takes all the systems working together to be successful,” Brown said. “None of this will succeed unless our residents step up and do the work they are responsible for around their homes.”

Defensible spacework has already had an impact this season, Brown said. A recent fire in a eucalyptus grove in San Rafael affected an area cleared for defensible space and significantly slowed the fire’s spread.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, said Deputy Chief Bob Sinnott of the San Rafael Fire Department.

Brown said the wildfire agency has been using escape route clearing and vegetation management projects for the past year.

In San Rafael, the cleared areas include 5.5 miles of fire roads and 180 acres of open space. In addition, 13 miles of roads were prepared with evacuation improvements and 165 households received direct assistance, said Quinn Gardner, emergency manager with the San Rafael Fire Department.

“At San Rafael, our goal is to ensure that all of our residents, regardless of age, income, property or language, are supported, educated and benefit directly from the MWPA,” she said. “This includes grants, direct assistance, education, evacuation improvements, vegetation management, defensible space, emergency alert recording and personal preparedness.”

Novato Fire Chief Bill Tyler said there are plans to clear fire fuels on more than 426 acres in the Marin Highlands, Ignacio Valley, Marin Valley, Bahia, Miwok Park, Arroyo Avichi, Lynwood Hill, Anderson-Rowe East, Hamilton, Atherton Ranch and long areas of the neighborhood. Evacuation route management is planned in the areas of Canyon Road/Novato Heights, Marin Highland, Indian Valley, Green Point, Black Point and Ignacio Boulevard.

The district is also considering a fuel cut around the city and 200-300 foot buffers around all neighborhoods served by the district.

“At Novato, we have an existing built environment that is highly combustible,” Tyler said. “There are over 12,500 parcels with approximately 14,000 buildings located within the Wildlands Urban Interface Area. This means that more than half of all plots and buildings in Novato are threatened by wildfires during wildfire season. »

Tyler said the wildfire authority has funded more than 500 grants totaling more than $875,000 in the Novato area. Last quarter, the district completed approximately 2,100 home and roadside assessments.

The Joint Powers Authority was created in 2019. It is funded by Measure C, which was passed in March 2020 and imposed a building plot tax of 10 cents per square foot.

Sixty percent of Measure C revenue is allocated to cross-jurisdictional projects; 20% for forest fire prevention mitigation at the community level; and 20% for defensible space assessments and home hardening for residents.

Comments are closed.