The Sherpa Fire is another in the long line of devastating foothill wildfires Santa Barbara has endured over the years. We are so fortunate to have the expert firefighters and technology to combat these raging infernos at a moment’s notice.
I am sure the discussion has already begun to how best protect the denuded hillsides in the aftermath of the devastation. A hydromulching of our foothills with unrecyclable trash is not the answer.
The many weeks of painting our foothills with a green mixture was done after the Gap Fire with small aircraft at the tune of $5 million by an outfit out of Arizona. When visiting these areas, it was very obvious why they did not want anyone to hike or even visit the burnt out hillsides. The hydromulch was nothing more than shredded trash added to a green mulch solution. Closer inspection revealed cardboard, paper, and Styrofoam in the mix, but the worst was the medical trash, such as pieces of surgical gloves. The evidence of what was contained in the hydromulch was brought to the attention of county officials.
The Jesusita Fire happened shortly afterward, and the mix was supposed to be cleaned up. They may have eliminated some of the medical waste, but cardboard and paper were definitely used, for another $5 million. The chaparral in our foothills has survived many fires and is designed to burn periodically and come back healthier.
I hope there will be a public discussion on this issue before a decision is made. Please allow the foothills around the Sherpa Fire to recover on their own without Hydro trash.