April 2021
Bringing Back "Good Fire" to Sonoma County
Did you see Sonoma Magazine’s recent article on the benefits of prescribed fire in Sonoma County? The article highlights the resurgence of prescribed fire that landowners, fire officials, local tribes, and ecologists are reviving to mitigate the rising risk of catastrophic wildfire and provide other benefits to the land. Give it a read to learn about these efforts, which will make for a safer and more resilient Sonoma County for future wildfires.


“The scale of what we need to do is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take years, even generations. This is the biggest issue facing our generation.”
  • Cal Fire Battalion Chief and Fire Safe Sonoma Board Member Marshall Turbeville

“If we’re actually going to see a real mindset change, we need to be doing this where people are, and have it be front and center where people are aware and learning about it and experiencing it.”
  • Fire Ecologist Sasha Berleman

“When millions of acres burn and the skies turn orange for days on end, clearly we need to do something different.”
  • Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls
Partner Spotlight: The Good Fire Alliance
The Good Fire Alliance is a grassroots, cooperative community of folks working together to get good fire and other land stewardship practices done on the ground. It is a group of private landowners and land managers in Sonoma and Marin Counties who have come together to learn how to manage the vegetation needs of their properties through controlled burning and other techniques. The group strives to be a network of support for cooperatively conducted burns in the North Bay. 

The GFA communicates through an online platform and listserv. Here, people can take matters into their own hands to plan work days, seek help and offer training opportunities, etc. It is not strictly limited to using fire. Check out their website to learn about the different opportunities to get involved.

The Good Fire Alliance is supported by Fire Forward, a program of Audubon Canyon Ranch. Interested in finding out more more? Contact goodfirealliance@gmail.com.
As we all know, there is no "no fire" option in today's climate. There is a network of people learning to live and work with fire to reap its long forgotten benefits. The Good Fire Alliance is taking matters into their own hands to reduce fuels, and therefore mitigate wildfire risk which is incredibly important. What's more, this network of land stewards is volunteer based which shows their dedication to doing their part. I am extremely grateful for their efforts.

Garrett Gradillas, Prescribed Fire Projects Coordinator, Fire Forward
More Resources on Prescribed Burning

Check out this video on community-based burning from the Napa Resource Conservation District. The California Prescribed Burn Association has helpful resources on their website. We also encourage you to peruse the UC Cooperative Extension's page on prescribed fire's benefits.
Fire Safe Sonoma Updates
FSS Welcomes New Board Member Geoff Peters
Please join us in welcoming Geoff Peters to the Fire Safe Sonoma Board! Fire Safe Sonoma is excited to have Mr. Peters as the newest FSS Board Member. He brings with him a wealth of experience (see bio below), including fundraising on behalf of nonprofits. He is an active member in the wildfire prevention space in Sonoma County and we are grateful to have him on our team. Welcome, Geoff!
Board Member Spotlight: Geoff Peters
Geoff is a farmer, business manager and lawyer who has specialized in nonprofit law for more than 30 years and has represented nonprofits in the Supreme Court of the United States. He is an emergency services volunteer, and is the founder and leader of Cloverdale-Asti COPE, the founder and Program Manager of Northern Sonoma County CERT, a member of Cloverdale and Sonoma County COAD, and founder and Board Member of the Alexander Valley Citizens League. He is an internationally recognized fundraiser operating in 25 countries and is chairperson of the largest fundraising enterprise in North America. He is a published author and teacher, having taught at the graduate school level for a decade and served as Dean and President of William Mitchell College of Law. He is also the owner and manager of Showa Farm, a Sonoma County organic and bio-diverse olive farm and producer of internationally award-winning Arbequina extra virgin olive oil. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors at the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis.
Grant Applications
Prop 68 Roadside Fuel Reduction Funding Approved for Grove Street and Occidental

We’re excited to announce that the Grove Street Fire Safe Council and Fire Safe Occidental have been approved for Prop 68 funding from the Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) for roadside fuels reduction work this summer. CCNB Corpsmembers will create shaded fuel breaks in the right-of-way using hand and power tools to selectively cut and remove vegetation. The work will be performed on a 1.3 section of Grove Street that will encompass 11 acres. In Occidental the work will be performed along 3.6 miles of road, encompassing a total of 13 acres. 

These roads serve as key emergency egress routes. The projects will provide safer ingress and egress in the event of a wildfire, as well as roadways that are more resistant to fire starts.Fire Safe Sonoma and the Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works will be key partners in project implementation. 

Go Team!
CAL FIRE Fire Prevention Grants

Fire Safe Sonoma is collaborating with the Sonoma Ecology Center, UCCE Sonoma County, and the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, and submitting applications for the CAL FIRE Fire Prevention Grant Program. CAL FIRE began accepting grant applications as of March 10th. Contingent upon appropriation from the California Climate Investments, or other fund source, up to $165 million will be awarded. CAL FIRE’s Fire Prevention Grants Program provides funding for projects and activities that address the risk of wildfire, reduce wildfire potential, and increase community resiliency. Funded activities include hazardous fuel reduction, wildfire prevention planning, and wildfire prevention education with an emphasis on improving public health and safety while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 
Applications must be submitted no later than May 19th, 2021 by 3:00 p.m. Overview of the grant program, application process and workshop details will be posted on the Fire Prevention Grants webpage. If you would like to apply and need help crafting your application, contact Roberta MacIntyre, FSS Board President and CEO at inspect2901@gmail.com.
Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Update
Our Community. Our Responsibility.

Get Involved! Join us for the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Community Workshops! A workshop will be held virtually in each supervisorial district. The workshops will provide the opportunity to learn about wildfire preparedness as well as to gather information from local residents about wildfire risks in their communities. The schedule of workshops is below:
District 1: April 7, 2021, Wednesday, 6:00 – 7:30 PM,
District 2: April 14, 2021, Wednesday, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
District 3: April 22, 2021, Thursday, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
District 4: May 12, 2021, Wednesday, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
District 5: May 6, 2021, Thursday, 6:00 – 7:30 PM

You can register in advance and learn more at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/WildfirePlan

To identify which Supervisorial District you live in you can use the look-up tool at the following link: sonomacounty.ca.gov/Board-of-Supervisors/District-Lookup/ 
Strengthening Partnerships

We are passionate about wildfire prevention and outreach and know that we are not alone in this mission. Wildfires don’t recognize jurisdictional or geographical boundaries. That’s why Fire Safe Sonoma is strengthening partnerships between other Fire Safe Councils, COPES, CERTs and related groups on the local and regional level.

Here's the latest on what's happening behind the scenes:

  • Sonoma County Fire Safe Alliance Meetings - On March 31st we hosted our second meeting of leadership from local fire safe councils, COPEs, and other fire safe communities and organizations including non-profits and fire personnel across Sonoma County to come together and discuss important topics in wildfire prevention and outreach. Discussion topics included: evacuation and emergency preparedness, volunteer retention and recruitment and grants. We look forward to hosting additional meetings in the upcoming months. The next Sonoma County Fire Safe Alliance meeting will take place on Friday, April 23, at 1 pm. Are you part of a Fire Safe Council, COPE, or similar group and would like to learn more? Email Cailin Notch at firesafesonomastaff@gmail.com.

  • Regional Partnerships - Fire Safe Sonoma is also strengthening our ties with regional fire safe councils such as Fire Safe Marin, the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, as well as the California Fire Safe Council. On Friday, March 19th we co-hosted a meeting with countywide fire safe council leadership representing eight counties across Northern California to share resources and information across the greater region. Additionally, we have monthly meetings with our neighbors at Fire Safe Marin to discuss ways to best support each other and partner.
Fire Safe Sonoma Storytelling Project
Fire Safe Sonoma is seeking stories from Sonoma County residents to share their experience with recent catastrophic wildfire. If you are a Sonoma County resident who has been impacted by catastrophic wildfire in the past four years, we want to hear from you. To share your story, contact firesafesonomastaff@gmail.com and put “Storytelling Project” in the subject line. In your message, please indicate whether or not you had to evacuate.

Check back on the Fire Safe Sonoma website for more information soon.
Storytelling Preview
In March, Fire Safe Sonoma's SSU Student Intern Marvin Hernandez and CivicSpark Fellow Cailin Notch sat down with West County resident Alina Haigler to record her experience with wildfire and evacuation. The interview is still being edited, but in the meantime check out some interview highlights below!
Marvin Hernandez: Do you feel like you had access to the necessary resources so you could feel prepared before or during a wildfire?

Alina Haigler: I think we've had a really steep learning curve in this County after Tubbs. Things like FireSafe Sonoma were a huge help, I tapped into them as soon as I could. We were proactively looking for [resources]. The county and [others] have done a really good job over the years. After the Camp Fire, after what happened in Paradise, I think everyone started being a little more cautious. 

Marvin Hernandez: What resources or information would you have wanted to know in advance of all these disasters?  

Alina Haigler: I think the evacuation route because we live on a one-way road. I think that that’s the scariest part is that every time we’ve left is [the question of] where do you go? When you get off the hill, what's safe? It’s a big deal to get into a long line of traffic when you are on a really small, narrow, windy mountain road. We time our leaving in order to avoid the crowd. You got flames at a distance and embers flying in the ash. They talk about fire making weather and things and even this far out you literally start feeling the eerie sensation. You just know how fast it’s coming. The people who are in more crowded areas I think really suffer when they don't know the route out of their neighborhood. That can be overwhelming for us. I only have one road; and then it’s just when I get down there, do I go right or left? Do I go to the coast or do I go into Santa Rosa?
Defensible space work on Alina's property.
Greener Beyond Webinar Recording

Did you miss our latest webinar? On March 25th we invited fire scientist Chad Hanson and biologist and writer Maya Khosla to discuss home-hardening, fire-resistant homes and defensible space. Catch the recorded webinar here!
Other Announcements + Events
Webinar: Grazing to Manage & Reduce Fuels
Northern Sonoma County COPE
Wednesday, April 7, 3:30 - 5:00 pm

Local grazing expert from UCCE Dr. Stephanie Larson will provide information about the benefits and challenges of using different livestock for grazing and her program Match.Graze. Sarah Keiser will talk about her community grazing cooperative and how you might start a grazing program in your community. A COPE group will ask our presenters about how to start grazing in their area. 

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Recorded Webinar: A Burning Proposition
Northern Sonoma County COPE

Earlier this Spring the Northern Sonoma County COPE (NoSoCo COPE) group hosted a two-part webinar on controlled burns. Watch Parts I and II on their YouTube channel!

North Bay Forest Improvement Program
The NBFIP is an incentives program, similar to CFIP or EQIP, that is being offered by The Rebuild North Bay Foundation in partnership with the Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) representing Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa Counties.

The program is intended for forest landownerships between 5 and 500 acres and will help reimburse costs associated with common forest improvements like thinning, planting, pruning, insect infestations, site prep, and woody residue follow-up treatments. Quality applications will likely already have a forest management plan prepared by an RPF or NRCS conservationist. Project areas funded for work with the CFIP program since 2018, thus utilizing funds from Proposition 68, are ineligible for funding under this program at this time.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; there is no application deadline. For the application and more information visit Sonoma RCD's website here
Good Fire Alliance Logo Contest
The Good Fire Alliance is in need of a logo and has started a community-designed and -driven logo campaign! Submissions will be gathered and then shared back to the community for rank-choice voting. The winning logo will be utilized for social media and branding. Runners up as well as the winner may be used for community-developed, grassroots merch such as hats and shirts, stickers, etc. Please submit your logo design(s) to Garrett Gradillas at garrett.gradillas@egret.org by April 16th. Good luck!
Recorded Webinar with Dr. Jack Cohen: "Community Fire Destruction in Extreme Wildfires, A Home Ignition Problem"
In March the Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group invited fire scientist Dr. Jack Cohen for an exclusive introductory session to Dr. Cohen’s research on structural ignition and its role in fueling wildfires in the Wildland-Urban interface. Dr. Cohen presented on pre-ignition efforts and their effectiveness at protecting communities like ours in Sonoma County. The webinar was recorded and is available to the public. Watch the exclusive talk on the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District’s YouTube channel here.
CAL FIRE Fuels Reduction Guide

Are you interested in learning how CAL FIRE conducts fuel reduction projects and equipment? Check out their Fuels Reduction Guide to better understand how prescribed fire and fuels reduction projects can help eliminate fire and risk.
County of Sonoma Updates
Climate Action and Resiliency Town Hall
On Tuesday, April 6 at 5:00 PM, the County of Sonoma will be hosting a Climate Action and Resiliency Virtual Town Hall. This is a great opportunity to learn more about current countywide climate initiatives, ask any questions you may have, and suggest ideas for future projects.
Join this important conversation about how our community can plan for a greener future.

For further information and to register for this online event, please visit sonomacounty.zoom.us/webinar/register.
Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Plan StoryMap
The County of Sonoma and participating jurisdictions are in the process of updating its Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2020-2021 per the five-year update cycle required by FEMA and the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. Part of the plan update is the creation of an online StoryMap. The StoryMap reflects the current status of the Hazard Mitigation Plan Update process, as of February 2021 and provides information about the planning process, identifies community involvement opportunities and presents updated hazard and risk data.

Click here to visit the online StoryMap! Have any comments or questions about the Plan or StoryMap? Send an email to PRMD-HazardMitigation@sonoma-county.org.
County Chipper Program
The County of Sonoma Roadside Chipper program was implemented in 2014 and has supported hundreds of county residents in creating defensible space around their homes. Since the program’s inception, there has been an increase in the use of the program by county residents working towards increased fire safety. Last year, the free roadside chipper program started on May 4, 2020 and continues to operate based on available budget, which is driven by community demand for the service. The program operates on a “first come, first served basis”. The budget was initially funded in July 2021 at $170,000 for the Fiscal Year 2020/2021 but during budget deliberations one-time adjustments were made to the budget and the Fiscal Year started with $400,000.
The program opened for applications March 1, 2021. Chipping will take place beginning April 1 on a first come first serve by zone basis. The County also has community based assistance days on their schedule and will resume the normal process around those dates. Please read the guidelines online before submitting an application. For further information and to sign up for the program, go to Permit Sonoma's website here.

If creating a more fire resilient Sonoma County is important to you, please consider donating to Fire Safe Sonoma. Thank you for your support!
Images provided by Roberta MacIntyre, The Good Fire Alliance, Geoff Peters, Alina Haigler, Northern Sonoma County COPE, and the Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group