What is the Highway 108 FireSafe Council?
The Highway 108 Fire Safe Council is a grassroots, nonprofit organization that works to reduce wildfire hazard and the devastating effects of wildfires in the north Tuolumne County community.
The mission of the Highway 108 Fire Safe Council is to save lives and protect property through wildfire preparedness, prevention, and education.
Among Council activities is designing and constructing shaded fuel breaks to keep wildfires from becoming destructive. An example of a fuel break stopping the spread of a potentially devastating wildfire was the 2105 Oak Fire that was stopped by the Fire Safe Council’s East Big Hill Shaded Fuel Break. Without the fuel break, the fire was at risk of spreading to the 1,100 population Cedar Ridge community. The fire break provided firefighters a place to stage and successfully battle the fire.
History of the Highway 108 Fire Safe Council
In the mid-1990s, the Tuolumne Calaveras Fire Safe Council was formed, but after several years was found to cover too large a geographic area to focus on local issues. In 2001 CDF (now CAL FIRE) applied for and received a grant from the Stanislaus National Forest to form four new fire safe councils, one for each of the four major east-west highway corridors in Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties.
The Highway 108 Fire Safe Council, covering north Tuolumne County, and the Yosemite Foothills Fire Safe Council, covering south Tuolumne County, were created as a result. The Highway 108 Fire Safe Council was incorporated on December 24, 2002, to provide education in wildfire preparedness and prevention and to build fuel breaks throughout the north part of Tuolumne County to stop or slow the spread of wildfires.
The first project of the Highway 108 Fire Safe Council was a pine needle collection program in Twain Harte done with the Twain Harte Community Services District. Other early projects included reducing fuels in and around communities, performing strip burns and fire break construction in areas of frequent vehicle fires, educating the public about the hazards of using equipment in wildland areas, and patrolling the county on high fire hazard days.
Since those early projects, the Fire Safe Council has created a network of fuel treatments and shaded fuel breaks throughout north Tuolumne County. Information on and location of fuel breaks is available in the Projects section. Also a project of the Fire Safe Council is the Plainview Slash Site which operates under a contract with the Council on land leased from the Bureau of Land Management.
Why We Need Fire Safe Councils
All the communities in Tuolumne County are in danger of wildland fire. Terrain, vegetation, weather, and accessibility create the conditions for potentially catastrophic fires. Many areas in Tuolumne County are at risk from wildfire because of large accumulations of natural fuels.
The Stanislaus Complex fire in 1987 burned 125,980 acres, 28 structures, and resulted in one death. It threatened communities from Tuolumne City to Pinecrest. The Stanislaus Complex was the largest fire in Tuolumne County until exceeded by the 2013 Rim Fire. The Rim Fire burned 257,000 plus acres, and area of 400 square miles, making it one of the largest wildfires in California history.
In neighboring Calaveras County, the 2015 Butte Fire resulted in two deaths and burned 549 homes, making it one of the most destructive wildfires in California history.
The wildland beauty of Tuolumne County makes it prone to wildfire. It’s not a question of if we will have a wildfire, but when we have a wildfire. The Highway 108 Fire Safe Council works to stop and lessen the impacts of wildfires. Our network of fuel breaks slows or stops the progress of wildfires and provides firefighters a place to stage and fight the fire.
The Resources section of this site provides useful information making your property and keeping your family fire safe.