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CalVTP in Practice: Lessons Learned in Implementation at Purisima Ridge Shaded Fuel Break

Friday, January 26th, 9:00am - 1:40pm

This field training was an opportunity to learn about lessons learned from the Purisima Ridge Fuel Break Project from representatives at Santa Barbara County Fire and Resolute Associates LLC. Participants increased their understanding of the CalVTP and how to apply it to overcome challenges in project implementation with examples at Purisima Ridge.

Ann Marx, Wildland Fuels Project Coordinator at Santa Barbara County Fire Department, focused on the implementation of the Purisima Ridge Fuels Break Project after completion of the CalVTP PEIR and CEQA compliance. Rob Hazard,  Division Chief/Fire Marshall at Santa Barbara County Fire Department, discussed the overall goal of the project, the strategic and tactical value of the fuel break, developing the initial project budget, the funding options considered, and the decision to use the CalVTP PEIR for CEQA compliance. Kevin Cooper, Biologist at Resolute Associates LLC, explained the general regulatory framework of environmental compliance under the CalVTP with particular issues from this project, such as breeding birds and sensitive plant avoidance and whether the project was successful in fulfilling its fuel reduction objectives while protecting sensitive resources. Mike Hickey, Fuels Crew Superintendent at Santa Barbara County Fire Department, outlined key considerations when working with hand crews, coordinating with mechanical equipment and maintaining crew safety.

Field Training Agenda
Time Item
9:00am Field training begins
  Site 1: Harris Grade Gate
  Rob Hazard: Project Development
  Vince LaRocco: Project Strategic & Tactical Objectives
  Ann Marx: Project Implementation
  Site 2: Overlook Harris Grade and West Fuel break area. Look at East FB area in Bishop Pine. Short walk to site
  Vince LaRocco: Tactical Project Considerations
  Ann Marx: Project Considerations 

Mike Hickey: Crew Safety, Coordination, and Production

  Q&A Discussion
  Site 3: Water Tank
  Vince LaRocco: Fuel Break Effectiveness
  Kevin Cooper: Biological Resources
  Mike Hickey: Site Challenges With Hand Crews
  Q&A Discussion
11:20am Lunch
  Site 4: Walk along fuel break area
  Kevin Cooper: Resource Considerations
  Rob Hazard: Maintenance of Fuel Break and Vegetation Response 
  Ann Marx: Management of Resources to Implement Project 
  Ann Marx: Mitigation Monitoring
  Mike Hickey: Hand Treatment Within Fuel Break Area 
  Kevin Cooper: Site Impacts From Implementation
  Rob Hazard: Importance of Planning, Cooperation, and Coordination
  Q&A Discussion
  Closing circle
1:40pm Field training ends


Ann Marx, Wildland Fuel Project Coordinator, Santa Barbara County Fire Department

Ann Marx has worked with Santa Barbara County Fire for the past 3 years focused on planning and implementing vegetation management projects to mitigate wildland fire. Ann worked for 21 years as the Wildland Fire Specialist with the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department and with the US Forest Service as a Fuels Management Specialist and Firefighter for 18 years.  

Ann’s experience has made her highly knowledgeable and successful in developing and implementing wildland fire programs; including planning, administration, organization, implementation, monitoring, funding, field implementation, resource protection, environmental compliance, coordination, training, and Federal, State and Local regulation compliance. 

Her career has included working with local communities, Fire Prevention, Biologists, Fire Operations, local Boards and Commissions and local, state and federal cooperating agencies to mitigate the impact of wildfire in the Wildland Urban Interface. She holds a graduate level certificate in Forestry from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, CA.

Rob Hazard, Division Chief/Fire Marshall, Santa Barbara County Fire Department

Chief Hazard began his fire service career in 1988 with the U.S. Forest Service working on the Los Padres Hot Shot Crew. Chief Hazard was hired as a firefighter with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department in 1998, promoting to Engineer/Inspector in 2002, Fire Captain in 2006 and Battalion Chief/Deputy Fire Marshal in 2016. Chief Hazard was a lead academy instructor for Wildland Firefighting and a member of the SBCFD Wildland Steering Committee. Chief Hazard has represented SBCFD on multiple teams and committees including the USFS Region 5 California Incident Management Team 7 and is currently a member of the local Type 3 Incident Management Team (XSB IMT3). Chief Hazard sits on the Santa Barbara Fire Safe Council as a Board Member and the FIRESCOPE Predictive Services Specialist Group. Chief Hazard is a 5th generation Santa Barbara native.

Chief Hazard currently holds the rank of Division Chief and is assigned as the County Fire Marshal.

Kevin Cooper, Biologist, Resolute Associates LLC 

Kevin Cooper began his career in 1980 at the University of Montana studying grizzly bear ecology and working summers as a backcountry ranger and wildlife researcher with the US Park Service at Mount Rainier and Crater Lake National Parks. After completing graduate school at the University of Alaska and Oregon State University studying Rocky Mountain elk he moved to San Luis Obispo in 1987 to work as a biologist on the Los Padres National Forest, where he worked as a district, zone, and finally the Forest Biologist before retiring in 2018. 

Kevin supervised the Los Padres Wildlife, Fisheries, Botany, Range, and Watershed Programs and worked with interdisciplinary teams to mitigate project impacts to wildlife, conduct wildlife surveys, write NEPA and Endangered Species Act (ESA) reports, monitor project effects on wildlife, and respond to litigation regarding forest programs such as developed recreation, wilderness management, road and trail management, fuels treatment planning, timber management, oil and gas development, range management, wildfire suppression, and watershed management.  Kevin participated in Forest land management planning and worked with other federal and local agencies to manage species across political boundaries on efforts such as the California Condor Recovery Team. 

Kevin also worked throughout his wildlife career as a firefighter on hand crews, and eventually became the Lead Resource Advisor and Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) leader, coordinator, and liaison for large wildfires such as the 2018 Thomas Fire where he was able to bring together all of his skills as a leader to help organize the interagency flood assessment before, during, and after the Montecito debris flows. Currently Kevin conducts biological and archeological surveys for fuel reduction projects to comply with environmental regulations while still accomplishing targets, and maps project areas using UAVs.

Mike Hickey, Fuels Crew Superintendent, Santa Barbara County Fire Department

My name is Mike Hickey and I am the supervisor for the Santa Barbara County fuels crew. I have 35 years of experience working as a wildland firefighter. I worked 29 years on the hotshots, and 6 years on a helicopter crew.  I have been working as a supervisor for the fuels crew since March of 2020.  My goals are to help train and develop my crew members for their career path with the fire department.  I have been working with chainsaws since 1985 and working around heavy equipment.  My hobbies are playing drums, skateboarding, surfing and going for runs with my dog.

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