El Dorado County Fire Safe Council
July 25, 2007
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Gold Hill Fire Station, 6051 Gold Hill Road


The meeting was called to order by Vicki Yorty, Executive Coordinator, at 1:00 p.m on July 25, 2007. Rich Englefield, Board Chairman, led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. Directors and guests present were: Vicki Yorty (Executive Coordinator), Richard Englefield (Board Chairman), Ray Griffiths (Board Vice-Chairman), Joan Jennings (Board Treasurer), Pat Johnson (Board Secretary), Walt Tyler (Director/Grizzly Flats), Janet Gastaldi (Director/Quintette), Penny Humphreys (Director, Rescue), Bill Robinson (Director, Chrome Ridge), Bob Berry (EDC GIS Department), Barry Callenberger (Wildland RX), Bill Cave (Auburn Lake Trails FSC), Mark Egbert (EDC Resource Conservation District), Audrey Pomato (Outingdale), Barbara Rebiskie (US Forest Service), Jim Stewart (El Dorado Hills), Walt Tyler (Grizzly Flats), Suzanne Todd (Battalion Chief, CAL Fire), Ken Hasse (Logtown), Tony Valdes (Eldorado NF), Michele Tanzi (Battalion Chief, USDA-FS Eldorado National Forest), James Kimmel, Ripley Howe (Sand Ridge/Outingdale), James Morgan (El Dorado County Sheriff OES), Bill Brandt (Auburn Lake Trails), Bill Templin (Watershed Coordinator), Sam and Lorelei Soria (Garden Valley).

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Executive Coordinator Vicki Yorty. Board Chairman Rich Englefield led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

A motion was made and seconded to approve the Agenda and Minutes of June 27, 2007. By unanimous vote, the Agenda and Minutes were approved.

The Director's meeting report was presented by Chairman Englefield. He informed the group of the financial status of the EDCFSC for year-end. Bill Robinson was introduced as a new Board Director representing Chrome Ridge. Plaques were given to Penny Humphreys and Walt Tyler in appreciation for their services on the Executive Board of Directors as well as chocolates from Rocky Mountain Chocolates. A contract was approved with Tad Mason and TTS Consultants to develop a biomass feasibility study. Promotion of the weed abatement ordinance for El Dorado County was discussed with Executive Coordinator Yorty and Board Chairman Englefield spearheading the project. They will present the Board of Supervisors with questions/anwers to issues regarding weed abatement for our county. Chairman Englefield has been attempting to contact Pat Lakey at the Mountain Democrat regarding a survey as to how residents would react to a weed abatement ordinance. Executive Coordinator Yorty was at South Lake Tahoe and presented a weed abatement program focusing on fuel load reduction. Chairman Englefield reported that he recently received a call from Supervisor Helen Baumann's office regarding the allocation of $1.5 million for Grizzly Flat's fire station and community center. This entire project is the culmination of four years hard work. Executive Director Yorty elucidated on projects and funding during the Board meeting. We have received a check for $60,000 for chipping. El Dorado County will be paying us $80,000 to the EDCFSC in the near future. The year is ending financially better than last year. A coordinator for the senior disabled assistance program is being sought. This program will work through the Fire Safe Council and has funding of $49,000. If you have any seniors in your area who require assistance, let Ms. Yorty know their names and needs.

Executive Coordinator Yorty requested we think of individuals to be on a steering committee regarding the biomass issue. A feasibility study involving SMUD and Sierra Pacific Industries for biomass facility at the mill in Camino area is being studied. Currently, agreements or mechanisms to provide bone-dry material are being pursued, and determinations of how much material can we sustain in ten years is being studied. They are collaborating once a month with the national forest, private entities and SMUD. The Forest Service has encouraged momentum in this area. It was recommended that small diameter utilization should be implemented.

Michele Tanzi, Battalion Chief for the USDA-Forest Service, addressed the Angora Fire. She emphasized the effectiveness of fuel breaks to the group. She informed the group that with each home that burned, the fire became hotter and with the advent of wind, increased in force. Some houses became engulfed in fire by pieces of other burning homes falling on them. The Forest Service had performed fuel reduction in certain areas where the fire remained close to the ground. However, once the fire hit another non-fuel break, it laddered into the crowns of trees making it harder to contain.

Tony Valdes, Resource Staff with the Eldorado National Forest, is conducting research in treated and untreated areas. It was determined that there was a 20% loss with fuel reduction treatment, 80% where fuel load was heavy and not treated.

Barry Callenberger with Wildland RX prepared a Fire Protection Plan for the California side of Lake Tahoe and discovered that greater than 60% of the homes did not meet fuel reduction requirements. This fact sets forth that this is really a community effort. Individuals can perform appropriate fuel reduction, but if your neighbor does not reduce fuel loads, you are susceptible to their fuels. Mr. Callenberger went on to express that we are responsible for providing fuel reduction for not only ourselves but for our neighbors as well. Mr. Valdes indicated that the Forest Service is actively salvaging the burned trees along the roads in Tahoe. Mr. Callenberger indicated that the lots are having their trees harvested and, they have acquired the EIR to do so.

James Morgan with the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office of OES worked with evacuation groups at the initial stages of the Angora Fire. His experience was that there was a distinct difference between the reactions of Lake Tahoe residents versus the West Slope residents regarding their response to the fire. As he was touring the Lake Tahoe region, residents had turned off their propane, prepared for evacuation, and were in readiness for the fire event. The West Slope did not seem to comprehend the need for possible evacuation and were not as ready as their Lake Tahoe counterparts.

Suzanne Todd, Battalion Chief with CAL Fire, noted that 65% of the acreage was burned in the first few hours of the Angora Fire. She noted that where substantial duff was present, homes burned readily. Radiant and combustible heat can ignite duff and cause burning. Ms. Yorty also noted that where green lawns were present, these helped to deter the fire.

Lengthy discussion ensued regarding the Angora Fire.

Tony Valdes of the U.S. Forest Service gave a presentation regarding keeping the momentum for fuel reduction going. He presented a map designating key areas to people, wildlife, endangered species, etc. The Forest Service is now developing the second phase of treatment; millions of dollars have been put back into the forests from the wood that has been harvested. They will be doing strategic treatments along Immigrant Morman Trail. The Forest Service will be submitting a ten-year draft plan and submit it to the environmental groups, watershed groups for conservation, and focusing on the areas that they missed in the first analysis. These acres are steeper and will result in higher costs for treatment; approximately $240-$250 per acre for treatment. Mr. Valdes informed the group that less fires means more watershed resources are saved. Goats used for fuel reduction were also discussed.

Mark Egbert of the El Dorado County conservation District spoke about their upcoming Conservation Planning Workshop. They need to know what kind of conservation issues exist on properties. They plan to visit properties and develop conservation plans. Focus will be aimed at improving the vigor of their agricultural property, or if they require reduction in fuel loads. The challenging aspect of the program is developing a conservation plan for each homeowner.

Bill Robinson, Board Director, reported that evacuation routes had been completed at Chrome Ridge. They need to create the official Evacuation Plan and meet with homeowners as to their individual evacuation routes. There are discussions to expand up and down the ridge to get accomplish more clearing of fuel loads.

Audrey Pomato reported on Outingdale/Sand Ridge where evacuation routes are being addressed, and a foundation for community involvement is developing.

Nick Nickerson is interested in starting a Fire Safe Council and getting a team going in the Mt. Aukum area.

Logtown's CWWP is in place and a productive meeting with the homeowners association has taken place. Work on the phone tree continues as well as the database, which will provide information on evacuation routes, etc. They are working with the community service district for clean-up and have had some success.

Bill Brant of Auburn Lake Trails informed the group that they have passed inspections and are preparing for the second-half of the BLM grant. The chipper was taken out into the community and much work was accomplished.

Bill Cave gave a dynamic PowerPoint presentation on community preparedness regarding fire events, which was powerful and informative.

Richard Englefield's birthday was celebrated with a beautiful chocolate cake, which he was gracious enough to share with the rest of the Fire Safe Council.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 3:00 pm.