In June 2015, San Benito Fire Safe Council received a grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) for $117,150 to conduct 20 days of chipping in San Juan Canyon and to extend the shaded fuel break along San Juan Canyon Road approximately two-and-a-half miles.
Most of the canyon residents participated in the chipping program, contributing hundreds of hours in cutting and piling their brush. Since January 2005, state law requires 100 feet of defensible space around homes and structures. This increases the chance that a home will survive a wildfire and it provides firefighter safety during a wildfire.
The Fire Safe Council began the shaded fuel break on San Juan Canyon Road in Spring 2014 with a donation of 800 hours of California Conservation Corps time to clear the highest priority areas. Local fire crews provided traffic control and county public works loaned their chipper.
In Fall 2014, the San Benito Fire Safe Council received $96,487 from Pacific Gas and Electric’s Emergency Drought Response/ Fuel Reduction Program. The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council provided administrative assistance on this project. Quality Tree Care cleared 14 acres of understory vegetation and wood along two-and-a-half miles of San Juan Canyon Road.
The Community Foundation for San Benito County is the current fiscal sponsor for the Fire Safe Council and assisted with administration of the current grant. The Fire Prevention Grant Program is funded by the State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund. This money is generated from fees that homeowners within the wildland areas began paying a few years ago.
The Fire Safe Council is pleased to bring those funds back to San Juan Canyon to increase fire safety in one of the highest fire hazard areas in our county. The San Benito Fire Safe Council is open to anyone in San Benito County.
To learn more about the organization and its projects, visit the website at www.sbfsc.org. If you think your community can benefit by a project that reduces fire risk, please come to one of the meetings. They are held the third Thursday of even months (April, June, etc.) at the San Juan Bautista Fire Station from 5-6:30 pm.