Posted on

SEC’s Glass Fire Watershed Protection Program

In response to widespread damage caused by the Glass Fire, Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC) has relaunched its Watershed Protection Program in order to keep toxins from burned structures out of local waterways.

The wildfires of October 2017 left behind dozens of burned structures near local waterways. The ash and debris of burned structures contains deadly toxins such as heavy metals, asbestos and nitrates, and is a potential source of pollution should rainwater wash it into the watershed.

In response to this threat, SEC created its Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which starts by using GIS data to map and prioritize burned sites. SEC then reaches out to landowners of burned sites, mobilizes volunteers, organizes them into crews, and leads them in isolating the ash and debris at those sites until authorities can dispose of it.

With dozens more burned structures left behind by the Glass Fire, SEC has relaunched this program to protect the watersheds of Sonoma Creek, Santa Rosa Creek and Mark West Creek.

If you are a property owner with burned structures on your property, email [email protected], and the SEC will send you a Landowner Consent Form to fill out.

Can you volunteer? A big part of the Glass Fire Watershed Protection Plan is organizing volunteers to help put down wattles and perform other tasks ahead of the oncoming rains.

Wattles act as filters, holding back the toxic ash and debris of burned structures while the water flows through. If rains arrive before all toxic burn sites are fully remediated, those wattles will go far in keeping pollutants out of the watershed.

If you would like to join the SEC as a volunteer, they are looking for help in several ways, including: Staffing and managing material staging areas. At these sites, volunteers fill sandbags and load vehicles with sandbags and wattles for use at high-priority locations.

Placing materials at structures. Groups of volunteers place sandbags and wattles downhill of burned structures at prioritized sites, working under the supervision of a trained team leader.

Contacting landowners. SEC volunteers are reaching out to all Sonoma Valley landowners with burned properties near waterways. The goal is to have them sign the permission forms and allow access so that the site can be secured.

To become a volunteer, email [email protected] and you will be sent a volunteer intake form. Or call 200-8134.