Jonathan Wilhelm had to quickly evacuate his home in the remote Larkfield-Wikiup area when the Tubbs fire in 2017 threatened to burn his property. When his neighbors and himself were allowed to return to their homes, the devastation was visible around their small community of Mayacama, he said.
Subsequently, Wilhelm and a group of other members of the Mayacama Homeowners' Association worked for several months to educate neighbors and prepare the area for future forest fires.
Part of their effort to reduce potential material damage from future fires is to participate in ongoing collaboration with Sonoma County and Cal Fire Regional Parks to conduct regular brush pile burning. The first fire in the Shiloh Regional Ranch Park is scheduled for today, from 10 am to 4 pm, and the park will remain open, park officials said.
"We all recognize that we live in an area where forest fires are a reality," said Wilhelm, managing partner of the Mayacama Golf Club. "After Tubbs, when many of us repaired our property, we had to ask ourselves, are we ready for another?
This operation is the first of a long series of planned works in the park until February. Its goal is to create a firewall – a band of open spaces to prevent the spread of a fire – on the border between Shiloh Regional Park and the neighboring district of Mayacama. The owners, said regional park spokeswoman Meda Freeman.
"These types of breaks, or line of control, are all occasions for firefighters to control a forest fire in the future," said Hattie Brown, Regional Parks Natural Resource Manager. "When we do, it will help keep fires away from tree tops and limit fires, which is less catastrophic."
Mayacama covers 675 acres and has 29 homes, added Wilhelm, as well as 20 additional villas for golf club members.
"We are a small isolated residential community," said Wilhelm.
To clean it, you can also mulch it, but since the Mayacama area and Shiloh Ranch Regional Park are located in an isolated and steep place, it's a good idea to burn brush piles.
"It's a small step towards safety and resilience to future forest fires," she said.
Will Powers, a fire prevention specialist for Cal Fire units in Sonoma and Napa, said brush burns have been occurring in the area for years.
It's a way of having a large volume of material, he said, and eliminating invasive brushes that do not belong.
The biggest threat to Mayacama is the importance of Douglas firs, which Brown says do not handle fires well. With controlled burns, part of the intent is to eliminate smaller trees that tend to be killed in forest fires anyway, but that can help to spread fires, has it? she said.
"You just have to make sure that you do the best you can to prepare yourself, and if it happens again, you're ready, hopefully," said Wilhelm.
You can contact Alexandria Bordas at 707-521-5337 or email@example.com. On Twitter @CrossingBordas.