The efforts of the Big Pine Fire Safe Council are starting to pay visible dividends. Brush has been cleared close to residential areas and the Council has set Saturday, Oct. 13 as a Big Pine community clean-up day.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and CalFire got together in early September and as of Sept. 17, a 16-man crew from CalFire’s Owens Valley Camp crew had mowed heavy grasses on the DWP lease that runs along Reynolds Road, removing dead wood and skirting trees along the road. The work represents a defined fire break between the Sierra foothills and both the Rolling Green and Knight Manor housing tracts. Next on the agenda is the area south of Rolling Green.
“The forces have come together,” said CalFire Battalion Chief Ron Janssen, “and the wheels are turning.” The brush removed from the Reynolds Road area will be burned this winter as the weather conditions allow. In the meantime, the material was moved, courtesy of Bishop Waste and DWP, to the county’s pit.
Over the last few weeks, Big Pine Unified School District and Big Pine Paiute Tribe representatives walked brush-covered areas with CalFire Battalion Chief Ron Janssen as the first step in clearing district leases. Brush around the silos, a three-acre school lease that abuts the Reservation, tops the priority list followed by clearing around the district’s ball fields, said Janssen.
At its Aug. 20 meeting, the Council had discussed a community clean-up day around the silos in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week. Considering the size of the brush-clearing projects, the Council decided to launch a residential clean-up day focusing on defensible space around homes and bringing together resources to help the effort. Details have yet to be worked out, but the concept is to coordinate those who need help with those willing to help neighbors clear combustible materials around their homes, reducing the possibility of spot fires in a wind-driven fire similar to the Center Fire of March, 2011.
CalTrans has already donated bags to dispose of green waste and other agencies will be contacted for assistance in disposing of collected materials. So far, the missing link is a chipper for woody materials. According to Janssen, a chipper to reduce the bulk of pruned tree limbs would double the efficiency of clean-up efforts.
The staging area for the Big Pine clean-up day will be at Mendenhall Park; the efforts will begin at 8 a.m. and run through noon. More details will be available in early October.