Find Out How to Get Your Neighborhood in the Firewise USA® Program
More than 30 Ellwood area residents are now Firewise after an informative meeting on October 12 at Ellwood School. The main purpose of the meeting was to introduce the neighborhood to Firewise USA®, a free program run by the National Fire Protection Association. The program mission is to provide a collaborative framework for communities to get organized, identify their wildfire risks, and work together to create a plan to mitigate those risks. Communities and residents participate in the program on a voluntary basis. Locally, the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council assists interested neighborhoods in the Firewise USA® process. Ellwood neighbors that attended the meeting took the first step in preparing for the next wildfire.
The meeting was hosted by the City of Goleta and the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council. Goleta City Councilmember Stuart Kasdin, City of Goleta Parks and Open Space Manager George Thomson, Santa Barbara County Fire Marshal Rob Hazard, and Fire Safe Council staff were among the speakers. Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann’s Chief of Staff was also in attendance.
Becoming a Firewise USA® community can increase your wildfire knowledge and reduce wildfire risk. Benefits may include homeowners’ insurance savings and grant funding. There are currently nine neighborhoods along the Santa Barbara South Coast Region that have completed the Firewise USA® certification process and are better prepared for the next wildfire.
The City of Goleta is also reducing the risk of wildfire at the Ellwood Mesa/Sperling Preserve Open Space through a variety of methods. Attendees at the meeting learned about the City’s new High Fire Ordinance, which allows for increased enforcement of no camping violations at select City open spaces, including Ellwood Mesa. In addition, the City is proposing to reduce the number of dead trees in the Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove and implement an annual defensible space mowing program along the open space boundary with private residences. Reducing the risk of wildfire at Ellwood Mesa is part of a developed program designed to protect wildlife, including the western monarch butterfly and breeding birds. Work is underway and is expected to increase significantly in the coming months, in areas not used by monarch butterflies or breeding birds.
To find out more about the Firewise USA® program, contact Kate Furlong at the Firesafe Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://sbfiresafecouncil.org/firewise-usa/. More information about the City’s efforts to reduce wildfire risk at Ellwood Mesa can be found here.
Pictured above: Breakout group at Firewise meeting