The Santa Lucia Conservancy Expands Regional Fire Prevention Press Release

The Santa Lucia Conservancy Expands Regional Fire Prevention Press Release



The non-profit, recognized as leader in regional fire planning and prevention, is awarded $2 million across three grants

CARMEL, Calif. – The Santa Lucia Conservancy is expanding its cutting-edge role in regional fire planning and suppression. Money from three federal and state grants will support a variety of fire prevention measures across the 20,000 acre Santa Lucia Preserve. Funds will also underwrite formation of the first ever Prescribed Burn Association on California’s Central Coast, spearheaded by state and local agencies.

“It’s an honor to have the Conservancy’s fire prevention work recognized and to know that we are making our entire community safer,” said Santa Lucia Conservancy Deputy Director, Dr. Christy Wyckoff. “Recent large-scale wildfires are raising real concerns about how to keep people safe in a changing climate while managing the natural California landscape we all enjoy.”

California is a fire prone region and that threat does not stop during a pandemic. Fire experts believe a primary reason for the state’s increasingly destructive fires is its 100-year history of extreme fire suppression. Climate change further exacerbates this already growing threat.

The goal of a Prescribed Burn Association is to reduce the threat by building capacity within a community to conduct more prescribed fires, in a safe and effective manner, by landowners across the community.

Fire prevention partner, Devii Rao, Director in San Benito County and Natural Resources Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, is really excited to be working alongside the Conservancy and the local community to form a Prescribed Burn Association (PBA) on the Central Coast.

“Not only will developing a PBA help many landowners achieve their diverse goals, from improving forage for livestock, to reducing fire hazard to enhancing habitat for native plants and wildlife, but it will also make the entire region safer. Santa Lucia has been a great partner from the beginning. They sent several of their staff to a live-fire prescribed burn training we hosted in June 2019, helping make the burn a success and showing their support for more landowner-led prescribed burns in the region.”

The grant partnerships are an assemblage of local, federal and private entities including the Conservancy and its conservation community partner, the Santa Lucia Preserve, the US Forest Service and state parks, as well as eight other private landowners. The Preserve’s critical location, as well as the Conservancy’s pioneering land management work, were pivotal in helping to contain the northern spread of the over 132,000-acre Soberanes Fire in 2016—the costliest fire in American history at the time—and protecting the larger Carmel Valley community.

The Resource Conservation District of Monterey County (RCDMC) helped secure the multi-agency grants with an understanding of the continual need for important fire prevention and natural resource management in remote areas of Monterey County.

RCDMC Forest Health Coordinator, Jamie Tuitele-Lewis, expressed gratitude for members of the Los Padres Strategic Community Fuelbreak Project, who share a desire to protect the community from another large-scale wildfire.

“The RCD was awarded these grants in large part due to the actions of collaborative members, like the Santa Lucia Conservancy, who have been a critical proponent of proactive and resource-based fuel management on their property and in the neighboring Carmel Valley and Big Sur communities.”

The Conservancy’s grant funding will first focus on augmenting roadside fuel management on the Preserve to complement CAL FIRE’s extensive 2019 fire breaks in the area, as well as making larger prescribed burns easier to manage.

“Mowing alongside the road improves a community’s overall safety and fire resilience. If we can prepare the land, when CAL FIRE has to come in and conduct fire suppression, we will have made the community safer and the fire crew’s work easier,” Dr. Christy stated.

With local services and resources fully stretched dealing with COVID-19, fire prevention is more important now than ever before.

“Put simply, together we are stronger,” said Dr. Christy. “Our collaboration with local and state agencies, neighbors and regional partners, both during and after the Soberanes fire, has led to an increased engagement and opportunity to build our landscape approach to wildland fire in a manner that protects our communities and advances our conservation efforts.”

About the University of California Cooperative Extension
True to the mission of the land grant universities, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources connects the power of UC research in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition and youth development with local communities to improve the lives of all Californians.

 About the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County
The mission of the RCD is to conserve and improve our natural resources, integrating the demand for environmental quality with the needs of agricultural and urban users. The RCD is guided by a Board of Directors who are appointed by the county board of supervisors to serve voluntarily and represent a broad spectrum of experience including farming, ranching, financial and non-profit land conservancy management. Depending upon available grant funds, the RCD employs multiple staff members with diverse technical backgrounds to support implementation of the RCD mission.

About the Santa Lucia Conservancy
The Santa Lucia Conservancy is dedicated to the stewardship of the unique natural resources of the Santa Lucia Preserve and to promoting human settlements that are ecologically sensitive. It is our goal to advance understanding of the interfaces between human residences and natural environments to benefit our community and society at large. Using the vast natural laboratory of our 20,000-acre Preserve, we work collaboratively on resource management, education and research to support and test this model of environmentally compatible human settlement. We envision a place of enduring wild beauty and resilient biodiversity, actively cared for and protected by a thriving community of people for the benefit of all.


Santa Lucia Conservancy images and captions available on Google drive:
UCCE media contact: Devii Rao, [email protected]; (831) 205-3125
RCD Monterey media contact: Paul Robins, [email protected]; (831) 975-7757
Conservancy media contact: Angela Hains, [email protected]; (831) 392-5982

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