Living With Fire

Organizing for Fire Preparedness in Southern Humboldt


Southern Humboldt Fire Safe Council

By Gail Eastwood

Are you ready for another fire season? The Southern Humboldt Fire Safe Council has been active all winter with fuel-break planning, neighborhood organizing, and community education. Here are some highlights of what we’ve been up to:

  • We’re in the planning stages of an ambitious regional fuel break along Mail Ridge (Dyerville Loop Road and Bell Springs Road). When complete, it will tie in to Highway 101 on both ends. Wind-driven fires from the northeast are our biggest fire danger. This fuel break would protect many of our Southern Humboldt communities and forests with a line of defense from these fires.
  • We collaborated with Briceland Volunteer Fire Department on submitting a proposal to PG&E for funding to construct a fuel break on China Creek Road. The fuel break would provide a safer ingress and egress route for residents and emergency responders. The project would provide employment for firefighters in their off-season.
  • We’ve worked with a number of Southern Humboldt communities to support local fire safety organizing and community preparedness on a neighborhood level. We’re especially pleased to see the Garberville Fire Safe group take off, with its premiere event at the Garberville Town Square on March 25 (see photos). Once the Garberville Farmers Market starts, they plan to table there at least once a month. They are developing an application for Firewise USA certification, starting with the risk assessment and action plan. The Benbow group and a Salmon Creek group are also applying for Firewise!
Pat Neighbors (Vocality Community Credit Union) and Mitchell Danforth (Trees Foundation) display a map of the proposed Garberville Firewise area at the Fire Safety Friday event.  Photo by Kerry Reynolds
  • Our monthly meetings attract people from a wide range of neighborhoods, who talk about what’s happening and what needs to happen in their area. We share resources, inspiration, encouragement; we learn from each other. Our neighborhood organizing committee has ambitions to draw in fire safety activists from other small towns, road groups, and communities. People get together and name the highest priorities for their own area, then get to work on solutions!
  • We’re active in collaborative regional forest health and fire preparedness efforts. We participate in the new Southern Humboldt Forest Health Collaborative. The collaborative includes organizations dedicated to promoting cooperative planning and implementation of fuels reduction and other forest health efforts in Southern Humboldt. We’re also working with the North Coast Regional Partnership, which looks at the big picture—planning for a larger region.
  • We’ve welcomed Mitchell Danforth, Trees Foundation’s Community Fire Resources Coordinator, to our team. Mitchell has been able to support us and the neighborhood groups in various significant ways.
  • We continue to work with the countywide FLASH cost-share program, which helps landowners to accomplish fuels reduction work around homes and access routes. You can find out more about this program at
  • And, last but not least—we became a Trees Foundation Partner, with all the various forms of useful support that come with that status, including the ability to accept tax-deductible donations and use Trees as fiscal sponsor. Yay Trees!
model home
Fire Safety Friday was an event at the Garberville Town Square on March 25th that included a model home built to demonstrate home hardening techniques. Pictured (from left to right): Mitchell Danforth (Trees Foundation), David Grefrath (Southern Humboldt Community Park), and Marchelo Bresciani (Vocality Community Credit Union).  Photo by Bill Eastwood

We meet monthly on the first Thursday of the month, 5:00–6:30pm on Zoom.

All are welcome. Find the link at the top of our website homepage ( or on our Facebook page. You can contact us at [email protected]. Let us know if you’d like to be on our email list for meeting and event reminders, links, and notes.

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