Wednesday, 01 February 2023

Black Forest project continues this week

KELSEYVILLE – This week, work will continue on a fire prevention project in the Black Forest that began last month.


During the week of April l5-21, crews from Cal Fire – the new name for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – began cutting brush and snags from the forest's edge running along Soda Bay Road in order to create a shaded fuel break.


The Bureau of Land Management project is intended to reduce the likelihood of a wildland fire in the forest, according to Rich Burns of the BLM's Ukiah field office. The project is sponsored and funded by BLM and the US Department of Interior.


On April 21, community volunteers helped drag undergrowth the Cal Fire crews had cut up to Soda Bay Road, where tons of materials was chipped. Taking part in the effort were students from Carle, Kelseyville and Clear Lake high schools; Big Valley Lions Club members; and local volunteers as well as those from as far away as Contra Costa and San Diego counties.


In addition, Bob Braito, used his heavy equipment to grade a staging area near Golf Road and Soda Bay and moved many yards of brush from Soda Bay Road to the staging area. The Buckingham Homes Association, led by manager Julie Berry, provided lunch with help from donations from Bruno's and D&J Pizza.


Volunteers on April 21 weren't able to complete chipping all of the materials, so the rest of the work is slated for completion this week.


On Tuesday and Wednesday, flaggers will be controlling traffic from Madrone to Little Borax Road. One volunteer flagger for Tuesday, quipped, "I feel that I am getting to be on my sixth grade school traffic squad again. You were special if you were trusted to use the whistle and the little stop sign."


The west side of the road will have two chippers working in tandem with 20 Cal Fire members feeding the chippers the rest of the cut undergrowth. This work will complete the first phase of the Black Forest Fire Prevention Project.


Only a portion of the "Prescription Plan" developed by CDF and BLM in 2004 was completed in Phase I. The plan for the Black Forest calls for removing all brush and trees under 3 inches in diameter at a height of 10 feet. The removal would extend 300 feet into the forest, providing a defensible fire control area, Cal Fire officials explained.


Most fires that start along the road smolder for a long time. If the grass fires cannot easily ladder up into the trees, the local fire service has a better chance of extinguishing the fire. Roads to the entrance of Yosemite National Park and other national parks entrances are being treated with the same prescription prepared for the Black Forest.


The prescription was established by BLM when the 250 acres was turned over to the BLM from the Lake County Land Trust. The Land Trust was able to purchase the property from loggers and hold the property in trust until a combination of donations and grants were obtained. All the land, except for seven acres owned by Lake County, was turned over to BLM in September 2004.


Planning will soon start for the project's next phase.


The Black Forest Fire Prevention Project Phase II is scheduled for Saturday, Sept 29, on National Public Lands Day. That effort will be discussed at an information celebration at 4 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the Witherell home, 8100 Soda Bay Road.


The public is invited to see the results of Phase I and discuss a Phase II project. Youth are encourage to attend. All three high school representatives have indicated that they plan to bring their students on Sept. 29 for phase II.


For more information about National Public Lands Day, visit www.publiclandsday.org. For more information about the Black Forest project, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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