Helping homeowners become fire resilient in Ventura County

10/16/19

Resource Conservation Districts across the state provide homeowners with technical assistance and services to help them become more resilient to wildfire. Their work includes chipping services, helping with tree and brush removal, education and training around prescribed fire, collaborating with partners to design wildfire action plans, and community engagement through films and panels, among others.

As California’s wildfire season grows longer, homeowners are eager to learn how they can protect their homes from wildfire. The Ventura County Resource Conservation District (RCD) is helping homeowners reduce hazardous fuels on their property and learn about science-based fire preparedness. This year, the Ventura County RCD received a grant from the California Fire Safe Council to help homeowners with both fuels reduction and fire preparedness. The RCD received $118,986 ($119,044 in match) from the California Fire Safe Council for their Ojai Valley Wildfire Prevention Program, which has three main aspects: (1) curbside chipping services, (2) brush clearing services, and (3) outreach to the community. Ojai Valley had a wildfire in 2017, and the community is excited to learn about ways to make their homes more resilient to wildfire in the future.

The RCD’s curbside chipping service allows homeowners to remove brush and dead trees from their property and leave the debris on the curb for clean up. This relieves a major cost for the homeowner, and benefits the entire community by increasing the number of properties which have fuels removed. The grant also funds brush clearing services, where a crew of workers will clear brush and other fuels on homeowners properties for anyone who qualifies as senior, low income, or physically disabled. The RCD contracts with the Concerned Resource & Environmental Workers (CREW) to implement all fuel treatments (chipping and brush clearance services). CREW is an environmentally-oriented non-profit youth leadership and employment organization which provides paid employment and community service opportunities to local youth aged 14 to 23.

The RCD also sees community engagement and education as an integral part of keeping the community safe from wildfire. As part of the Ojai Valley Wildfire Prevention Program, the RCD performs outreach to the community through classroom workshops. In these workshops, the RCD collaborates with the local fire department to educate homeowners on research-based methods of keeping their home firesafe. The RCD also received a one-time three month grant from Southern California Edison to create their Fire Safe Demonstration Garden on the RCD’s property in Somis. The garden demonstrates “hardscaping”, tree placement, and other fire safe practices.

Before and after photos of the Ventura County RCD’s Fire Safe Demonstration Garden in Somis

It is important for individual homeowners to fireproof their homes, but for an entire neighborhood or city to be resilient to wildfire, there must also be coordination on a large scale. The Ventura County RCD looks forward to helping individual homeowners with education and reducing hazardous fuels, to benefit their entire community and make it more fire resilient. Take a look at the Ventura County RCD’s website for more information on fire preparedness as well as their other programs around healthy soils, irrigation efficiency, watershed health, and stormwater management.

RCD Collaborators