Saturday, April 5. 2008
The California state Senate is putting together an anti-wildfire bill. Naturally, when a body of such important and busy people gets together they want to do big things and don't have time to actually learn about the problem they are trying to solve. Oh, and of course they must write legislation that will create more opportunities for big businesses to fleece the public.
Current laws generally suggest a 100 foot defensible space around most structures. Amazingly, that current law is pretty well thought out. It must have been written in a sane and sensible time. A properly constructed 100 foot defensible space is about optimum. Too little and a fire might burn right up to your house. Too much and the slow burning chaparral plants cannot protect you from that storm of embers that is blowing towards your house. And any poorly maintained defensible space is really worse than nothing at all: dried out grasses and weeds are far more flammable than most native chaparral plants.
So what's the problem? The problem is that the senate wants to require a 300 foot cleared space. That is irrational, but they're going to do it if we don't stop them. A 300 foot clearing around every house will not save houses. In fact, it may actually be the cause of more house fires during wildfire events. What it will do is to decimate more of our native ecosystem and line the pockets - no, stuff the pockets - of the corporations who sell and use "brush" clearing equipment. If we have to clear 300 feet from every house around our little acre and a half of chaparral it will all be gone - and so will we. I have my scruples; there's no way I would live in a state that would do something like this.
And what can we do about it? You can go to the California State Senate website and drop your senator an email expressing your objection to the 300 foot clearance. Here's the link to their email addresses: http://www.sen.ca.gov/~newsen/senators/senemail.htp
Dear fellow naturalist,
From time to time we do what we can to help our local leaders better understand the importance of the natural environment and why it is crucial in maintaining our quality of life. Next Tuesday the Natural Resources and Water Committee of the California State Senate will be holding a hearing on a bill that will have a serious impact on our rights to enjoy nature around our homes. The bill is sponsored by Senator Hollingsworth (SB 1618) and will allow excessive “clearance” distances to be required around homes (300 feet of bare dirt and seriously compromising up to 1000 feet of habitat).
This is the wrong approach to fire safety. The use of excessive clearance distances is not only counterproductive to our efforts to reduce fire risk, but creates a whole host of additional problems.
Let’s kill this bill in committee.
If you have a chance this over the next two days, please take a moment and express your concern by FAXING a note to the Chair of the Committee and any other member you choose. The Committee hearing is Tuesday morning, so your thoughts should be sent no later than noon this Monday (4/7). Here are the Committee member’s names and FAX numbers:
If you have a chance this weekend, please take a moment and express your concern by FAXING a note to the Chair of the Committee and any other member you choose. The Committee hearing is Tuesday morning, so your thoughts should be sent no later than noon this Monday (4/7). Here are the Committee member’s names and FAX numbers:
Here’s the bill:
It's easy to send an email and some faxes. Please do it. This is important!
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