By the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council
CAL FIRE is about to undertake a major fire prevention project by constructing a 100-foot-wide fuel break on the west rim of Moosa Canyon, a brush-covered gorge between Hidden Meadows and Valley Center.
CAL FIRE, which responds to wildfires statewide and provides firefighters under contract to the Deer Springs Fire Protection District, has long identified Moosa Canyon as a possible extreme hazard if a wildfire were to break out near Old Castle Road. The canyon runs north-south between Old Castle Road and Cougar Pass and, according to a fire scenario developed by CAL FIRE many years ago, a fire originating near Old Castle Road during a Santa Ana could race south into the canyon, where easterly winds could drive it up the slope into Hidden Meadows.
“If a fire were to come from the east and start heading up Moosa Canyon toward Hidden Meadows, this fuel break would provide an extra layer of protection and give firefighters a place to make a stand,” said CAL FIRE Division Chief Nick Schuler. Female inmate crews from the Rainbow Conservation Camp will perform the hard work of clearing and hauling away the fire-prone brush, Schuler said.
Schuler said that CAL FIRE has secured the necessary environmental clearances for the project and is contacting homeowners to request their permission to clear brush on their property. Nearly the entire two miles of the fuel break is on private property, and the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council is helping CAL FIRE contact the property owners.
“We hope to start in the next month or so,” Schuler said, adding that the clearing will be a multiyear project. The project is being paid for by funds from State Responsibility Area fees that are dedicated to fire prevention projects.
This isn’t the first time that Moosa Canyon has been the subject of a fire-prevention project. In 2009 and 2010 the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council managed the removal of 53 acres of dead, dying, diseased, and invasive vegetation on the canyon’s rim. Two grants totaling $169,000 from the US Forest Service helped pay for that project, with the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council and Deer Springs Fire District contributing $120,000 in volunteer and staff time. The new fuel break will expand on that project.
If you own property along Moosa Canyon you will soon hear from CAL FIRE regarding this project, if you haven’t already. Please sign the form giving permission to clear brush on your property, as that will help ease the fire threat in the Deer Springs Fire Protection District.
A version of this article appears in Fire Safety News, a monthly e-newsletter published by the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council. To subscribe go to www.DeerSpringsFireSafeCouncil.com and click on the “SUBSCRIBE” link.