California readying for wildfire through partnerships and preparedness

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing $1.2 billion in additional forest management and risk-reduction investments.

Agencies from multiple levels met at Shaver Lake Friday to showcase ongoing preparation efforts.

CAL Fire Fresno Kings Unit Chief Dustin Hall said preventative measures helped save Shaver Lake from catastrophe. 

“As proof behind me, fuel modifications, fuel breaks, and aggressive firefighting work,” Chief Hall said.

In 2020 the Creek Fire was one of the largest in California’s history.

It scorched communities – new homes and historic buildings, alike.

But no casualties were reported, and the community surrounding Shaver Lake survived.

“One of the biggest lessons learned is what you do before the fire is what’s in the large part determines what the fire is going to end up looking like,” United States Forest Service Sierra National Forest Supervisor Dean Gould said.

Since the Creek Fire, more and more such preventative measures are getting planned, funded, and completed.

Hail says, “What we do is we try to prioritize based off of threats. We look at community risks. We look at where they sit.  Are they ridgetop communities? chimneys, shoots, channels any areas that are going to be more fire-prone.”

“We are going to be awarded an approximately 8-million dollar state grant to do fuels treatments on the south side of the forest, specifically.  So it is that type of cooperation that is going to make the biggest difference,” Gould said.

Dirk Charley with the Dunlap band of Mono Indians serves as a tribal liaison and is a co-leader for the Sierra-Sequoia burn cooperative.  He said, “For millennia indigenous people have used cultural burns – good fire to maintain open areas with reduced fuels along the trails.”

The Sierra-Sequoia Burn Cooperative helps coordinate efforts like prescriptive burns on private and tribal lands. 

“We burn where indigenous peoples have always burned, along the trails and travel corridors that interlace and interweave through the Sierra Nevada,” Charley said.

It’s just one of many partnerships and coordinated efforts meant to best prepare California for wildfire.

“There is no fire season anymore.  It is now a fire year,” CAL FIRE Southern Region Chief David Fulcher said.

Video of the conference at Shaver Lake is available here.

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