Page 28 - Sonoma County Gazette June 2019
P. 28

   Summer chatter
It’s Fire Season! Are you ready? Are your neighbors ready?
If you’ve been reading my column lately, you might think Sonoma is all about affordable housing, climate change, and more housing; because that’s what I’ve been about for the past five years since returning to Sonoma County
Walk the neighborhood. See high grasses? Are there thistles as high as your eye? Are there overhanging limbs near electrical wires? First, take care of your property. See potential problems in the neighborhood? If so, contact the property owner. If that fails to get results, call SVFRA—Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority (707) 996-2102.
But I have to confess—that I can “hear” Sonomans muttering—that Sonoma is also about Food. Wine. Visitors. The film festival. The plays at Sonoma Arts Alive. The artists and art shows. Our magnificent library, with its free concerts, book clubs, and meetings. Our dozens of nonprofits.
“The Sonoma Wildlands Cooperative” – Local Organizations Combined To Promote A Vegetation Control Program....
And what about our schools? Our well-apportioned Senior Center. Our churches. Omigosh, what have I left out now?
Cal Fire has provided a grant of just over $1 million to six local organizations to participate in vegetation management and controlled burns. Collectively they are known as the “Sonoma Wildlands Collaborative.” The six organizations are the Audubon Canyon Ranch (Bouverie Preserve), California State Parks (Jack London, Annadel, Sugarloaf), County Regional Parks, Sonoma County Ag + Open Space District, Sonoma Land Trust, and the Sonoma Mountain Ranch Preservation Foundation.
So I want to announce that at 75 years of age, I am going to step back a bit from all that heavy-duty political activity I’ve been engaged in, and enjoy some of the cultural and social activities of our unique Valley town.
After all, it’s summer, isn’t it?
This Sunday, for example, I will be attending the Free Spirits Spring Concert as the guest of one of its members, Norma Barnett. I can’t promote it, as so many of my colleagues do, tracking diverse events in their towns and publicizing them in advance. But if people send me announcements of their events (and maybe complimentary tickets?), I could do that.
Those dreadful fires are behind us now...but new ones may
be ahead. We’re glad to see that the County is taking proactive measures to inform us of best practices for protecting our property. You may have missed the April and May workshops they’ve been holding, but information is available online: see Vegetation, and
You’d better become informed because Permit Sonoma has
The plan is to control vegetation growth that could fuel a future conflagration as experienced in 2017. These organizations would likely appreciate volunteers to prevent a future loss of life, property, and wildlife.
So here’s an invitation: if you would like coverage, let me know! You can write to me care of this paper, or send an email to the address above.
In June 2017 Springs Splash noted that Cal Fire annually selected a single area for inspection and prevention. That year it was the Cavedale Road area. Clearly this plan was too limited. Thousands of acres were in need of inspection and correction. By enlisting the above organizations to manage vegetation in areas under their control, maybe the next fire(s) will not be as devastating.
recently announced that it will be making inspections!
The fires of 2017 show the task is momentous. The Sonoma Wildlands Cooperative is taking steps to do this. However, an aerial view of the Mayacamas Mountains and forests shows that in spite of the 2017 fires, thousands of acres just above Highway 12 remain unburned and present a clear and present danger to the Springs communities. The vegetation control program outlined above will help greatly. A key lesson we should have learned from 2017 is that it’s up to individual residents to be prepared. That means all grasses and weeds need cutting, combustibles cleared, limbs near electric lines and leaves from roof gutters removed. Talk with your neighbors about mutual concerns. If there are circumstances that bother you call the fire department and request a review. Let’s keep the Springs safe and whole.
That is a good thing! Even if it reminds us somewhat of grade school. Some people still need a little pressure from authority to cut back the vegetation— especially those tall dry grasses—from growing close to the house.
And we don’t want to hear Donald Trump crowing about how the fires – on federal lands—were the result of state negligence. Negligence it may be, but not the government of our big blue state, which has been taking a stand on numerous important social needs, like immigration, housing, childcare, single payer health, oil drilling on the coast, and carbon farming (also known as sequestration) to help drawdown carbon.
Note: This writer is indebted to Sarah Phelps, Kenwood Press (5/15/19), for many of the details found in this story.
The topic of fire brings us back to climate change.
Book Review: A story of the largest forest fire in U.S. History, “The Big Burn,” Timothy Egan, 2010, Houghlin Miflin Press
No matter how I may try to lighten up, I don’t see how we can avoid talking about climate change. We just aren’t living in a stable world full of concerts and films and trips to the beach; and if we travel this summer, we’re likely to utilize one of the worst climate offenders: airplanes. But we may not want to hear about that just now, when we’re getting ready to visit the grandchildren. What a shame that they don’t live closer! But maybe that has to do with the high price of housing? So we are forced to fly. Or maybe we can drive, not so bad.
Imagine a conflagration nearly twice the size of all California fires in 2017 (1.8million acres). In 1910 the worst forest fire in U.S. History burned over three million acres of forests and towns in Montana, Idaho, E. Washington, and part of Canada. Nearly 10,000 men fought the blaze. It cost several hundred lives
of workers and firefighters. The story is detailed in a book, “The Big Burn” by Timothy Egan (2010). In addition to the fire Egan’s work covers the founding
of the U.S. Forest Service and the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt and Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot. In light of our recent experiences this work covers not only the greatest fire in history, but marks the beginning of the conservation and preservation movements of today.
Morning, afternoon, or evening an observer in Fetters or Boyes can see dogs walking their owners up and down the hills. Most are leashed, but not all. Certain dogs allow their owners to walk without being tied to them. It’s such a healthy and comical routine.
Many people just don’t want to hear about all this. “Not in my control,” they say with a shrug. Or, “too scary.” Can’t be true, say others. “God wouldn’t allow it.” Maybe that’s why the PraxisPeace event last month was not well attended, featuring the energetic and highly effective head of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune. Brune’s talk began with how he became an environmentalist, a story you can readily find online. He grew up in Chadwick Beach, New Jersey, on the Jersey shore, and when he developed a rash from chemical discharges into the sea, he joined community action. He was very good, striking a balance between the urgency of the climate situation and the progress being made.
Walking the Dog!
Can Urban Wildland and Forest Fires Be Prevented?
 If you missed him, you’ll have to get his book: Coming Clean -- Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal . BUT Don’t buy it from Amazon.
The children are not afraid to shout about climate change. Our Children’s Trust, the lawsuit that started in Sonoma against the federal failure to protect youth from climate change, will be heard June 4 in Portland!
Maybe theirs was the spark that ignited the Green New Deal?
Could be.mAs you can see, there’s no getting away from climate change.
SPRINGS cont’d on page 29
28 - - 6/19

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