J Maineri 202

Immediately ban open fires and charcoal grills in fire-ravaged El Dorado County

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WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

What isn’t wrong, is the better question. This photo was taken August 28th, 2021 at Henningsen Lotus Park (HLP). Fresh coals litter the ground from an overflowing barbecue, lit the previous night. Meanwhile, the devastating Caldor Fire is raging just a few miles away. The valley is filled with smoke. Our eyes and throats burn from hazardous air quality. Firefighters are spread thin.

YET, STILL, THERE IS NO OPEN FIRE BAN IN EL DORADO COUNTY

Instead, here at HLP under the deadwood of surrounding trees, visitors can fire up a charcoal grill, throw on some flaming steaks, and toast their marshmallows. Some people think nothing of scraping the blackened charcoal onto the ground, right on top of dried oak leaves and twigs.

Even in normal times, this situation is a disaster waiting to happen. But THIS year? There is simply no excuse for this negligence.

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED, PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION:

"We implore the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to IMMEDIATELY BAN OPEN FIRES AND CHARCOAL GRILLS in all county public and private lands through the end of fire season."

ADDITIONAL PETITION REQUESTS:

We further urge that the Board / County Fire Officials follow the lead of forward-thinking municipalities by prioritizing Fire Mitigation Efforts, undertaking the following projects:

• Implement a permanent county-wide system that will automatically trigger a seasonal ban on open fires and other hazardous fire activities when pre-determined drought / fire hazard / air quality conditions are met.

• Conduct a thorough review within all county parks to identify and remove fire hazards; post prominent fire safety policies.

• Install fire safety / fire ban electronic signage during wildfire season on highly traveled roads leading to popular tourist destinations.

• Create a county-wide public awareness program to inform and educate residents and tourists of high fire-risk and spark-risk activities, e.g. dragging chains on vehicles, driving cars onto dry brush, smoking in wilderness areas, using power tools, etc.

• Implement a stiff and effective penalty system to deter banned and/or hazardous fire activity.

• Update appropriate websites with fire danger / fire ban information at the beginning of and throughout each fire season.

• Protect homeowners and businesses from future fire policy cancellations and exorbitant increases by researching and implementing Best Practice fire safety programs and mitigation activities throughout the county.


UPDATES, EXPANDED PETITION REQUESTS, & MEDIA COVERAGE:

9/29/21: The current Fire Ordinance is in the process of being revised! Our campaign has been added to the next EDC Fire District Board meeting on 10/21. We are working to also get our campaign placed on the agendas of the other 11 districts in El Dorado County. Please reach out if you can help.

9/3/21: BBQ's Removed at Henningsen Lotus Park!
EDC issued statement: "in order to comply with local fire district ordinances, El Dorado County Parks will be removing, covering, or locking all BBQs and placing signage at all parks noting that all fires and use of BBQs is prohibited when burn permits are suspended."

NOTE: We appreciate and commend Supervisor Parlin and others for their responsiveness and swift actions! We also wish to note that - contrary to the county statement and SacBee article - the existing ordinance does NOT actually prohibit all fires/BBQs.


MEDIA COVERAGE:

Sacramento Bee, Sept 2nd: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/artic..
Sacramento Bee, Sept 3rd: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/artic...

BACKGROUND:

The US Drought Monitor rates 40% of El Dorado County as level D-3, an area of “Extreme Drought.” The rest of the county including the Coloma-Lotus community is rated even worse - at level D4, “Exceptional Drought”, the most severe rating on the scale.

Fire bans exist in neighboring counties, in our state parks, and on federal lands. Flashing signs in Placer County warn visitors of extreme fire danger and associated fire bans. But in our county, there is nothing: no signage, no open fire ban, no heightened awareness of wildfire dangers other than the inundation of smoke, fire crews, and evacuees from the Caldor fire.

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors (BOS) is fully aware of the risks. Per its July 2019 letter to the California Insurance Commissioner, “we know the catastrophic wildfires occurring in recent years have defined our new normalit is not an exaggeration to characterize the situation as dire.”

The County's 8/16/19 press release further states, "pre-disaster prevention and mitigation is a key component to this [wildfire risk] issue and the impact unavailable coverage has not only on homeowners but also our economy and our government’s ability to provide needed services to our residents."

Yet, in September 2020, it was determined a county-wide fire ban was unnecessary. This, despite pleas from local residents about active camp fires, and as “California is Burning” headlines dominated national news. Concerned Coloma-Lotus community members were left to their own devices, creating a local voluntary fire ban program. Still, fires continue.

REFERENCES:

1. EDC Drought Conditions: https://www.drought.gov/states/california/county/e...
2. EDC BOS Press Release: "Supervisors Meet with State Insurance Commissioner to Discuss Efforts to Help Residents Find, Keep Fire Insurance" https://www.edcgov.us/County Press Releases/Pa...
3. 07/19 Letter from BOS to Insurance Commissioner: https://www.edcgov.us/Government/CAO/preparedness/...
4. Coloma-Lotus Voluntary Fire Ban Program: https://www.coloma.com/community/firesafety/

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