Fire Crews Hard At Work To Reduce Fuels

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The Big Labor Day weekend is over once again. There certainly were a lot of people milling around Pine and Strawberry. The traffic was unbelievable. It seems that not too many people worried about the price of gas. The businesses in Pine and Strawberry must have done very well.

The Art and Craft sale and the pancake breakfast were very successful. Many enjoyed the pancakes prepared by the firefighters and Strawberry's Elite. People were very generous and many dollars went into the jars for Katrina disaster relief. Our communities are full of wonderful people.

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Shown from left are, George Larson of Kiwanis; Bill Potter, in charge of the pancake breakfast for the/S fire department; Jean Vogel of Kiwanis and Jim Adams, Potter's father-in-law, and one of the many who came to help with this first pancake breakfast under new leadership.

Mike Brandt, captain, Pine-Strawberry Fire Department, wants everyone to be updated about the progress of the Fuels Reduction Program. The crews, which have been working to reduce fuels on private property, work in an area of Pine for a while and then move to an area in Strawberry.

They work three days a week. Brandt has been overwhelmed with the response to this program. People are seeing the difference this clearing makes -- and they know that these properties will be safer if fire threatens. If you want to take a look at some properties that have been thinned, stop by the fire department for a list of addresses.

You can still sign up for a fuels assessment of your property. They are already scheduled into December, but sign up now so you will be ready before the next fire season.

The Billy Brushwacker program is about to begin. Two herds of 25 goats will be munching away, one in Pine and one in Strawberry. The goat's job is to defoliate the area and aerate the soil. Land erosion can be a big problem if you just take away brush and trees and do not prepare the soil. The goats do their work on selected properties and then the crews come in and thin the trees.

A special grass seed mixture, which is to be scattered after the fuels have been reduced, will soon be available at Plant Fair Nursery. This grass is designed to help prevent erosion and is fire resistant. Also, the fire departments have a list of recommended plants that require little water and are fire resistant for future planting.

For those who are doing their own thinning, the Fuels Reduction Program is making trucks available that will pick up brush from your thinning efforts. This is only for individuals -- not for commercial businesses. Call the fire department and arrange to have your brush picked up and then have it stacked and ready for them. form is available at the fire department on which to keep track of the hours and dollars you spend on making your property more fire-safe. This information is vitally important for future funding of these programs.

Brandt wants everyone to know that wood chips are free to anyone from our communities who wants them. These wood chips are on the vacant lot south of Ponderosa Market in Pine, the northwest corner of Hardscrabble Road and highway 87. Bring your truck and shovel and help yourself. The residue from the fuels reduction efforts go through the chipper. This makes excellent mulch and also helps prevent soil erosion.

"If we are going to continue to live in these mountains, we are going to have to adapt. The only way to adapt is going to take a lot of work," Brandt said. I am sure we all feel it is worth it. The grant that will allow this program to continue into next year is being written now.

Please provide information for this column regarding upcoming events, activities and items of interest for residents and visitors of Pine and Strawberry. Call or fax (928) 476-2239 or e-mail cpwrather@earthlink.net.

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