Fuel Reduction Grant

It is hard to be thinking about fire prevention, fire clearance, and fuel load reduction when it has been raining for the better part of 3 days now, but that is what I am doing. Below, I am reproducing a letter from John Handy of Treebones about what is desperately needed from our community in the next week or so. After John’s letter, I have included my commitment letter, so you can see how it will all add up. I know Betty Withrow is working on her letter of commitment, and hopefully others are as well.

Hello South Coasters,

I have been working on a fuel reduction grant for the South Coast . This is a federally funded grant coordinated through the Monterey Fire Safe Council and the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade. The North Coast put in an application over a year ago and was approved for $460,000. The South Coast has not been approved for any funding because we have not gone through the lengthy application process. Fellow Fire Brigade board member Dick Ravich has been instrumental in helping me through the process. We are trying for $340,865 for the South Coast . The money goes to hiring contractors to clear fire breaks around private properties and businesses, vegetation control on access roads and education for maintaining a fire safe condition for our properties. The grant givers want to see that the beneficiaries of the funding are willing to participate in the program. They need to see what’s known as “in-kind donations” in the form of commitment letters (see attached sample). An in-kind donation is a contribution of time, service or goods made by a donor to help support the operations or services provided by your organization. It isn’t cash. Here are some examples:
A business providing lunches for workers.
Pacific Valley School can have students do before and after photo monitoring.
Organizing and running meetings, preparing reports
Doing site clean-up work

For an in-kind donation volunteer time is valued at $27.92 per hour. Other goods are valued at their retail value.

For the North Coast grant they raised 10% matching in-kind contributions as follows:
California State Parks: $11,880
CERT $5410
Esalen Institute $1820
Various water associations $9883
Various Road associations $17887
Plus some individual contributions.

We don’t have as many formal associations here on the South Coast so I’m hoping to get commitments from landowners, the South Coast Community Land Trust, Pacific Valley School, the Hermitage, Lucia, Gorda and Treebones Resort.

I’m playing catch-up on this process. The entire application needs to be in by June 1st. That means I need the letters in my hand no later than Wed, May 25th. You can use the attached letter as an example. It is addressed to the president of the Monterey Fire Safe Council. Put it on your own organization’s letterhead, describe what your organization will provide and its value. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me back. Or call me at (805)927-2820. It’s not a sure thing that we’ll be approved for the grant but I’m willing to invest a substantial amount of time to try because it would be great for us. If we don’t get approved you will not be bound to your letters of commitment.
Thanks, John Handy

May 17, 2011

Kelly O’Brien, President
Monterey Fire Safe Council
2221 Garden Rd.
Monterey, CA 93940
Re. Letter of match commitment for the south Coast Community Fuel Hazard Reduction Project.
Dear Ms. O’Brien,
Please accept this letter as an indication of Kathleen Woods Novoa, aka, bigsurkate’s commitment to provide the “in kind” services, as detailed below, for a total match value of $3491.25 in support of the above referenced grant request. Following are more detailed descriptions of the elements of my match:
• Twenty-five (25) hours of volunteer service, at a rate of $27. 92 per hour, documenting, pre- and post-operation progress on Plaskett Ridge Rd;
• One hundred (100) hours of volunteer service, at a rate of $27.92 per hour using my bigsurkate blog to provide before, during, and after progress reports, photo documentation, and educational information about maintaining fire clearance and fuel reduction, and other information to the community to support the efforts of the grant process.

While I know you, Ms. O’Brien, are familiar with my blog, others in this process might not be. Bigsurkate is an informative, hyperlocal blog which has been in existence since July 5, 2008. During that time, it is approaching 400,000 “hits” and has received both local and national recognition for the service it provides. I run it entirely on a solo voluntary basis, generally updating the blog daily with information about fires, weather, road closures, and community non-profit services. It has become the “go-to” source for local fire information by firefighters throughout the state of California; tourists and locals alike for road information; as well as the County of Monterey for information about the status of the local roads. It is assisted by a co-administrator who will post once a week when I am on vacation; a network of sources of information throughout the Big Sur Community; and governmental agencies including County agencies, Cal-Trans; and well as being networked with other news sources. It has been called a better source of accurate, timely information that local main-stream media by a number of readers.

It can provide a valuable service to the Fire Council and the governmental agencies involved in this grant by documenting the process in words and in photos and sharing this with the 600-700 plus average daily readers this blog currently enjoys on slow news days. The 125 hours pledged is extremely conservative, given how much time my photojournalism and blogging currently involve, documenting and covering the events on the Big Sur coast.


cc: file Kathleen Woods Novoa
Attorney at Law