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District 7 Director Doug Failing introduces (L to R) Caltrans Director Will Kempton, Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Los Angeles City Councilmember Jack Weiss,Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Douglas Barry and a representative from the Fire Marshall's office.

CALTRANS GIVES FIRES THE BRUSH-OFF
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 07/2008

The Department gets a helping hoof in its brush clearing efforts.


Does the idea of brush fires get your goat? Well, it gets Caltrans’ goats—to help clear the brush that fuels those fires.

To highlight the importance of keeping hillsides and other fire-prone areas free of brush, District 7 took part in a media event on June 6. Featured speakers included California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Director Will Kempton and District 7 Director Doug Failing along with California Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles); Los Angeles City Councilmember Jack Weiss; and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Douglas Barry. One of the brush-clearing goats (we’ll call him Billy the Kid) also participated. 

Representatives of various Adopt-a-Highway groups also attended the event to show support, provide information and answer questions. “With State resources scarce, we are looking for community members to step up and help out in our statewide Adopt-a-Highway program,” Kempton said. “It is also critical that property owners in fire-sensitive areas make sure their property is free of brush.”

Caltrans District 7 has intensified its brush-clearing efforts at the request of our partner agency, the Los Angeles Fire Department, which has provided some of the manpower for this operation. For Fiscal Year 2007/2008, the District has spent $15 million on vegetation control.

Brush clearing operations have been underway along six Los Angeles County freeways identified as the most vulnerable, including the press conference location along the San Diego Freeway (I-405) between Mulholland Drive and Ventura Boulevard.

Another location is the eastbound Ventura Freeway (SR-134) between Harvey Drive and Figueroa Street, where hired goats, which can clear about an acre a day, were first used in a pilot project to clear five acres of dry brush. Additional locations include: the Foothill Freeway (I-210) in the cities of Sunland and Sylmar; the Ronald Reagan Freeway (SR-118) near the Ventura County Line; the Glendale Freeway (SR-2) north of SR-134; and portions of the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) and the Orange Freeway (SR-57) as well as the Ventura Freeway (U.S, 101) and Highway 150 in Ventura County.

”As steward of the State’s freeways and highways, Caltrans is very conscious of our role in fire prevention and the Department is eager to do everything possible to minimize this danger,” Kempton said. “Working in partnership with the Los Angeles Fire Department assists both agencies in our mutual goal of preserving and enhancing California’s resources and assets.”

Representatives from most major media outlets covered the event and recorded the remarks of all the speakers. Although literally speechless, one attendee seemed to particularly captivate them – the goat, who bleated out the message, “Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.” Or was it, “Feed me?”
 

District 7 Maintenance Deputy Dan Freeman is interviewed about the brush clearance operation. The Los Angeles Fire Department's Fire Camp workers clear brush on an adjacent hillside. The Message:  Fire prevention is everyone's responsiBILLYty - Billy th Kid Two representatives of Adopt-a-Highway groups are flanked by (L) Adopt-a-Highway Coordinator Steve Mellinger and (R)Grafitti Coordinator Vincent Moreno.