Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council Awarded $4 Million to Assist Communities with Wildfire Risk Reduction


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Santa Barbara, CA- The Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council is the proud recipient of two major Fire Prevention Grants from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire): Regional Community Chipping and Prescribed Grazing. Work for the grants will start in 2023 and run until March 2026. These two multi-million dollar grants will enable the council to expand the organization considerably and increase the capability of promoting wildfire safety and education in Santa Barbara County.

The first award for the Community Chipping Program is approximately $2 million and will make Santa Barbara County more adaptive to wildfire. During the course of the program, each property owner will be instructed to remove vegetation to meet their defensible space standard requirement and relocate the cut vegetation to the end of their driveway on specified days. The Fire Safe Council will then provide a contractor to chip the material and haul it away. Additionally, on specified days the Community Chipping Program will provide a roll-off dumpster in each participating neighborhood where non-chippable material (i.e., palm fronds, leaves, vines, etc.) can be deposited for removal.

The project is a partnership between the Fire Safe Council and approximately 5,821 residences in 25 distinct neighborhoods totaling 32,418 acres in southern Santa Barbara County. One of the major goals of the project is to increase the efficiency of future wildfire responses. Another is to increase community scale involvement in wildfire risk mitigation in the surrounding wildland habitat by limiting its exposure to future wildfires. See the photo below, or click the link here, for information on which neighborhoods have been selected for the Community Chipping Program.

The Fire Safe Council is currently accepting applications for a passionate full-time project manager to manage the grant. Interested applicants are welcome to view the job description on the Fire Safe Council website, and apply via email to SBFireSafeCouncil@gmail.com. To view the full description, please visit https://sbfiresafecouncil.org/ and click the link at the top of the site.

The second grant, the South Coast Herbivory Project is for approximately $1.9 million and will implement around 2,000 acres of fuel reduction through the use of sheep and goats to reduce fuel loads in a cost effective and ecologically sound manner. The project includes 20 prescribed herbivory fuel treatments located along the south coast of Santa Barbara County. Additional sites may be considered as possible alternative sites or additions to the project.

The treatments are located predominantly in areas dominated by grass and sage vegetation. These fuel treatments are strategically located adjacent to critical transportation corridors and wildland urban interface areas. The project goal is to reduce fuel loading to mitigate the potential for high intensity wildfire and reduce the potential for wildfire ignitions.

There are over 17,800 habitable structures within the high fire hazard area of the project influence zone that will potentially benefit from these proposed fuel treatments. See the photo below for the project vicinity, and information on where the grazings will take place.

Any questions or inquiries about either grant can be directed to sbfiresafecouncil@gmail.com.

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