USA — Most General Plan discussions focus on development and largely economic issues take center stage.
But Wednesday survival was the topic on the table.
By state law general plans must address wildland fire safety. For Butte County, with scenes of last summer’s fires seared in everybody’s memory, the concern is much more than an academic exercise.
As many as 100 people crammed into a small room in a Paradise restaurant to hear what might go into Butte County General Plan 2030 related to fire safety and to discuss topics that could be added.
The meeting was sponsored by the Butte County Fire Safe Council.
“… A lot of us were directly impacted by wildland fires and I think that has obviously contributed to the crowd we have today,” said retired Paradise fire chief Jim Broshears, an officer in the Fire Safe Council.
He told the crowd his own home was in an evacuation area in Paradise.
“What I learned this summer, having been a fire chief for 11 years and a firefighter for 35 years, is I had to re-examine my own home,” for its ability to survive a wildland fire.
“I realize maybe we all have to look really hard, not only at the community level but at our own home level, at how survivable each of us is,” continued the chief.
He went on to say that in a “wind-driven fire,” the survival of an individual’s home or even personal survival, “is going to come down largely on what you’ve done on the individual level to prepare yourself for wildland fires. I’m looking at my own home, going I have to make some changes.”
Broshears said the process that will lead to Butte County General Plan 2030 has to take into consideration the fact people choose to live in areas vulnerable to wildland fires.
People from community fire safe councils, from Cohasset on the north to Berry Creek on the south, reported on efforts they have made to encourage brush removal, cut fire breaks, establish emergency community radio systems, and in the case of those in the Concow/Yankee Hill area, assist in the recovery for people who lost their homes in this summer’s fires.
Wednesday’s plan called for the audience to break into small groups to brainstorm proposals that might go into the General Plan to encourage fire safety, and planning for development that takes wild land concerns into account.
The recommendations will become part of the thousands of pages of proposals and ideas that the county Department of Development Services has been collecting for more than two years.
A detailed report on the “product” from Wednesday’s meeting will be posted on the county’s General Plan Web site at www.buttegeneralplan.net.