An occasional feature of BLM California's News.bytes

California Fire Alliance

Protecting 1,270 “at-risk” communities in the State and millions of Californians from wildfires is a daunting challenge. Federal agencies, including BLM, are meeting that challenge with their State and local counterparts in a unique partnership called the California Fire Alliance.

The Alliance, formed in 2001 in response to some catastrophic fires, is an interagency forum involving local, tribal, state and federal agencies and the private sector to address wildland fire hazards and assist local communities in reducing wildfire risk, particularly in the “wildland-urban interface,” covering about 36 million acres, or one-third of the State. (continued below)

Below: Crews burn piles of brush cut by hand, during the Cameron Park Project. (Read more about this project below).

Through the combined efforts of its members, the Alliance seeks to increase the awareness of communities and to facilitate and assist in development of strategic plans and projects for reducing wildfire hazards by communities.

Alliance members sponsor “Firewise” workshops, help communities at risk, and most importantly, provide interagency grants through the California Fire Safe Council to help communities and homeowners improve wildfire survivability through hazardous fuel reduction, education and community planning to aid in fire prevention and control efforts.

In 2005, BLM alone was able to fund 40 projects through the Alliance -- with $2.3 million in grants, treating 8,000 private land acres and conducting 255 outreach activities.Since the program began, it has helped develop more than 100 community fire plans, most of them "Community Wildland Protection Plans." Through the Alliance partnership, other agencies made similar contributions. Since 2000, the Alliance agencies have provided approximately $50 million to help lessen the risk to Californians from wildfires.

More about the photos above:

The "Cameron Park Project" presented a difficult challenge. Crews worked next to half-million dollar homes on land that could not be treated with mechanical equipment -- because the land is within the Pine Hill Preserve, an area managed by BLM to protect Threatened and Endangered plants. Once a botanist flagged areas where it was safe to burn cut brush, crews cut and burned more than 4,000 piles of brush in a project area 100 feet wide and close to five miles long. This first phase, started in 2004 and finished in 2005, reduced the threat of fire to homes. It also helped rare plants in the Preserve by clearing areas to encourage them to grow, and helped protect against the spread of possible house fires. The project was funded by BLM, and completed with help of inmates from the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection's Growlersberg Conservation Camp. The results reinforced fire prevention plans and programs of the Cameron Park Fire Safe Council.

April 2006

News.bytes, issue 226