Pat Kidder, Chairman of the California Fire Safe Council
The past four years as Chair of California Fire Safe Council have gone by very quickly. Hard to say if it was the high frequency and large scale of the wildfires that struck California during these years or the ambitious work of the CFSC board and staff that made these years fly by. Most likely, it was a combination of the two, as fire and mitigation are so undoubtedly and intimately connected in our lives and mission. I’m sure you can relate.
CFSC continues its role of providing funding for fuels mitigation, Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) and wildfire education campaigns through our innovative Grants Clearinghouse. Federal funding has remained relatively constant over the last four years, with an estimated $3.3 million available for grants in the upcoming 2015 cycle.
We offer many thanks to Region 5 of the U.S. Forest Service and Senator Dianne Feinstein for their continued support of our programs. Still, we are only able to fund about 25-30% of the proposed projects with this level of funding. It is our hope that our Fire Safe grants will continue to demonstrate the value of pre-fire mitigation and the benefit of supporting such projects in future years.
This year, the CFSC Board has worked closely with state elected officials, the California Board of Forestry and CAL FIRE to advocate for state funding of fuels reduction and forestry projects. Our goal is that SRA Prevention Fees and Cap & Trade funds will be made available to local Fire Safe Councils and similar non-profit groups for such projects. In a recent conference call, CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott and key staff intimated that CAL FIRE has plans to administer SRA Fee and Cap & Trade grant programs in October 2014. We will surely keep our eye on this developing opportunity and continue our advocacy for Fire Safe Councils.
The CFSC Board continues to push for renewing federal Title III funding that is set to expire at the end of this federal fiscal year. This financial assistance has been critical for funding County Fire Safe Council Coordinators (mainly in the northern part of the state) and other key fire prevention programs across California. Our efforts are ongoing with the help of key board members and local Fire Safe Councils. We will continue to draw attention to this important issue affecting many Fire Safe Councils.
Earlier this year, I asked the Board of Directors to select a new Chair to take over in 2015, and they agreed. Several board members showed sincere interest in the position — all of whom would be a credit to your organizations. At the May 2014 meeting, the board elected board member Jerry Davies as the incoming Chair starting in 2015.
Jerry has been involved with California Fire Safe Council since the early days of formation. He was invited by our founder, Bruce Turbeville, to join the Board in 1995. With his extensive career in the insurance industry, Jerry brought a fresh perspective to the wildfire problem. He has also secured much-needed financial support over the years for CFSC and local Fire Safe Councils for wildfire education and outreach programs across the state, including the conferences sponsored by Farmers Insurance. I know that Jerry will be an excellent Chair to lead us into 2015.
I will continue to serve CFSC as a board member, humbly working towards our mission of reducing the impact of wildfire. My thanks to the CFSC staff for their efforts over the last four years. Special thanks to the board members for their efforts to push the need for collaborative efforts within California in mitigating catastrophic wildfires.
Lastly, I extend my sincere gratitude to the many local Fire Safe Councils and Firewise Communities in California whose work has become a model for the rest of the states. As I have said on many occasions, California Fire Council does not speak for your Fire Safe Councils rather with you on shared efforts and common messages. I applaud your tireless commitment to making your homes, communities and environment safer from wildfire.
Wishing you a fire safe future,
Chairman Pat Kidder