No Grant Funds in 2018-19 Cycle; Keeping Focus on Fire Prevention

A comprehensive grant request process seeking $1.9 million in fire prevention funds for Oakmont’s most vulnerable areas did not meet with success from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). But the OVA is gearing up to jump into the next round and double down on local efforts to make the community fire safe.

Cal Fire has announced more than $43 million to 66 programs throughout the state, some in Sonoma County including $1 million to the Sonoma Land Trust.

“That’s really our saving grace,” said Kevin Hubred, OVA general manager. “We will be focusing on work that needs to be done inside of Oakmont, but the inclusion of the Land Trust in the grant recipients is significant for us.” The Land Trust fuel reduction projects will include Annadel, Sugarloaf and Hood Mt. along the Highway 12 designated wildfire corridor.

Hubred is notifying Oakmont sub-homeowner associations that supplied fire abatement work proposals for the Dec. 2018 grant submission. He said OVA has already set aside operating and reserve funds to continue removing fuel sources in OVA common areas such as near the East and West Rec centers, and areas bordered by Annadel that are heavily wooded.

“We will be advising the sub-HOAs to follow suit by earmarking funds for fire prevention,” he said.

Oakmont received Firewise USA Community designation last fall, meeting the guidelines to have a mitigation plan and community education measures established to encourage residents to minimize fire potential around their homes.

The Sonoma Land Trust is part of the newly formed Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative, which oversees 18,000 acres of private and public lands. Meanwhile, Hubred has been asked to join the steering committee to work on the Santa Rosa Cal Fire Wildfire Protection Plan.

“These are positive notes to keep us involved in the larger picture,” Hubred said. “We’ll be working hard inside Oakmont to make us safer and to find potential sources for funding as the next grant cycles come about.”

Projects along the Highway 12 corridor could start as early as next month. Geyserville and Sea Ranch were also among the grant recipients in Sonoma County. Hubred said OVA is investigating forming a 501(c)3 to allow direct application for available grants.