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Award assists Cascadel Woods

Residents of the Cascadel Woods subdivision in North Fork have received a $500 funding award from the National Fire Protection Association to help homeowners, including many seniors, be safer this fire season.

On May 7, individuals and large and small groups of all ages will participate in national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities that will make communities across the country safer from the impacts of wildfires.

For the third year, State Farm Insurance has sponsored National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), providing $500 grants to 125 communities across the country. Fourteen communities in California received grants, and Cascadel Woods was the only community in Madera County to receive funding. Nearly 300 applications were received for funds from communities in 40 states.

Cascadel Woods, considered a priority for fuels treatment, includes 480 acres of private property with 178 parcels and more than 150 landowners surrounded by National Forest Lands. It is currently the No. 1 at risk-community in Madera County for catastrophic wild fire as specified in the Madera County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

The funds will be used to rent a chipper from Smith Works Rents in Oakhurst.

During the 2015 wildfire season, the community of Cascadel Woods was put on an evacuation warning due to the threat from the Corrine Fire to the southwest of the community. Later, residents were placed under a mandatory evacuation order due to the July 25, 5,700-acre Willow Fire that threatened the community from the north.

The 2015 Willow Fire burned on National Forest land within one mile of Cascadel Woods. Drought and extensive bark beetle infestation has led to unprecedented tree mortality in Cascadel Woods and the surrounding Ponderosa Pine belt at this 3,000 to 6,000 foot elevation range.

Cascadel Firewise Committee and Cascadel Woods Fire Brigade are volunteer organizations supported by resident members of Cascadel Woods, who will be assisting a dozen residents in the subdivision on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day by clearing defensible space by chipping slash from tree removal activities and clearing defensible space around structures.

Aimee Cox, secretary of the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association, who applied for the NFPA funding in March, is project coordinator, and said “Residents have given their advance permission to allow volunteers to remove pine needles, cut, prune and/or remove brush and small trees, cut and split downed logs for firewood and stack firewood away from structures and to clear defensible space around structures.”

The Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association is pursuing additional grant funding opportunities for additional fuel reduction work in the community.

Any interested volunteers can contact Cox at aimeeleigh1209@gmail.com, or (559) 760-7235 or meet at the Cascadel Woods Clubhouse, 9 a.m., May 7. Lunch and refreshments will be provided to volunteers.

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