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Rim Fire at Night


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San Francisco’s State of EmergencyGovernor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Tuolumne County on Thursday, August 22, followed by a second emergency declaration for the city and county of San Francisco on Friday, August 23, 2013. California will also receive federal reimbursement for 75% of the state’s eligible firefighting costs associated with the Rim Fire through the Federal Emegency Management Agency (FEMA).  Even when it’s 150 miles away, the Rim Fire is threatening the power and water supplies for San Francisco which gets 85% of its water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and uses green energy generated from 3 hyrdro-electric power stations in the Hetch Hetchy Power System, 2 of which have been shut down since Monday, August 19.  San Francisco’s water supply is not currently affected, but ash or mudslides into the reservoir after the fire will continue to be a threat. The  San Francisco Public Utility Commission has purchased supplementary power for its customers at a cost of $600,000. 

As of this morning, 4,500 homes near the fire are threatened, with 31 homes and 80 outbuildings having already burned, as well as the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp which had extensive losses.

  Yosemite sequoia grove

Meanwhile, protection measures are being taken for natural and cultural resources as well. Fireline has been placed around two groves of Giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. Althought they are a fire adpated species, these trees may be damaged by higher intensity fire caused by the increased fuel loads associated with missing fire cycles after many decades fire suppression.  



TOP BANNER PHOTO: The Rim Fire, burning with high intensity in Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, is threatening the water and power supply for San Francisco.  LOWER PHOTO: Also threatened are old growth giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park in the Tuoloumne and Merced groves.  

French RanchFrench Ranch Open Space Preserve in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed, Marin County Parks photoMeasure A Sales Tax Creates Local Funding Source for Hazardous Fuel Reduction in Marin County

In 1972, Marin county residents passed Measure A, a local tax initiative “for the acquisition of open space, park or recreation lands and the development, operation or maintenance of open space, park or recreation lands so acquired.”  In Novemenber 2012, county voters passed as second Measure A to continue support for parks and open space, including wildifire risk reduction.

The 2012 Measure A is a 1/4-cent sales tax that will generate approximately $10 million annually for nine years. Marin County Parks convened a series of public meetings to establish how these funds would be allocated. The public process determined:

  • 65% of the funds would be available to Marin County Parks to restore natural resources, maintain county parks and open space preserves, restore and improve public access, and protect natural lands
  • 20% would be dedicated to saving family farms and ranches
  • 15% would be available to cities, towns, and special districts to manage their parks, nature preserves, recreation programs and vegetation to reduce wildfire risk

The first Measure A funding allocation for eligible cities, towns and special districts will be available beginning in January 2014 and will total approximately $1.5 million. Each jurisdiction will decide individually whether to use their funds for hazardous fuel reduction or other kinds of projects and will submit a workplan before the funds are released. For example, the San Rafael Fire Department has identified 900 structures within 100 feet of public open space and has proposed using Measure A funds to create defensible space for these structures by cutting vegetation on the open space lands.


The following criteria are used to establish whether a city, town or special district is eligible for Measure A funds:

1. Its board is a duly elected public body

2. Its board has regular meetings

3. Its board meetings are subject to the Brown Act

4. It is funded by taxes, assessments, or other public sources

5. It prepares an annual budget, approved by its board at a public meeting

6. It possesses defined boundaries within which its authority is exercised

7. It exists and operates as a separate and unique legal entity pursuant to state law

8. It provides public recreational programs, services and/or facilities

9. It possesses the capacity to meet work planning and expenditure reporting requirements prescribed by Marin County Parks

Cities and Towns

* Belvedere (city)

* Corte Madera (town)

* Fairfax (town)

* Larkspur (city)

* Mill Valley (city)

* Novato (city)

* Ross (town)

* San Anselmo (town)

* San Rafael (city)

* Sausalito (city)

* Tiburon (town)

Special Districts

* Bel Marin Keys Community Services District

* Marin City Community Services District

* Marinwood Community Services District

* Muir Beach Community Services District

* Strawberry Recreation District

* Tamalpais Community Services District

* Tomales Village Community Services District

* Firehouse Community Park Agency (Mesa Park, Bolinas)

Bay Area HeadlinesNational Wildfire Preparedness Moves to Highest Level

(National Interagency Fire Center News, August 20, 2013)

Governor Brown and California Emergency… Leaders Visit Rim Fire

(Cal OES Newsroom, August 26, 2013)

Yosemite Fire Costs San Francisco Power as Water Unharmed

(San Francisco Chronicle, August 26, 2013)

After Leveling Camp, Rim Fire Pushes North

(San Francisco, Chronicle, August 26, 2013)

Upcoming Events  JULY 17 to SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 – CALIFORNIA FIRE SAFE COUNCIL GRANTS CLEARINGHOUSE 2014 FUNDING CYCLE OPEN  – Applications for 2014 grant funds will be accepted through 5:00 pm September 17. Grant writing workshops will be held at several locations.  More…
Red Cross suppliesRed Cross trucks loading supplies, Red Cross photoHave you thought about what you would take with you if you had to evacuate quickly?  

Many people have friends in the area they can stay with, but there will almost always be a Red Cross shelter for those who don’t.

I was working on the Mountain Fire near Palm Springs earlier this summer. The mountain communities that were evacuated for several days made a really nice “Idyllwild Says Thank You” video  which gives a good sense of the relief a community feels when it has to evaucate but the fire doesn’t reach them.

There are also some great photos from Rim Fire Red Cross Shelter at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, CA….


Jennifer Chapman

Fire Communication and Education Specialist

S.F. Bay Area National Parks

415-464-5133 TEL


Thanks to all the partners who are working to improve fire safety and restore ecosystem health.