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Climate Investment Grant application ratified

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday ratified City Manager John Pietig’s decision to apply for a California Climate Investment Grant.

Pietig was forced to move without prior approval from the Council because the grant was announced on May 9 and the deadline to apply was June 6. Due to the time constraints, Pietig authorized Fire Chief Mike Garcia to submit an application on June 5 for a $3,292,500 state grant.

“It would be a total home run if we are successful in getting this grant,” said Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede.

The goal of the grant program is to minimize carbon emissions from wildfire and maximize carbon sequestration in healthy wildland habitat.

Sequestration is a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form.

If awarded the grant, the City would be required to contribute $874,200 over three and a third years. Credit for the City administrative support would reduce the contribution by almost $400,000.

climate 1993 fires

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Unpleasant memories of the 1993 fires spur Council action

Grant funds would be used to create firebreaks around structures in Laguna Canyon and Canyon Acres, fuel treatments to reduce ignition and spread all the way to the Irvine City limits, and habitat restoration in parklands.

The city would be responsible for maintaining the grant benefit area at an estimated annual cost of $200,000 to $500,000. Allowed clearance methods would be by hand-crews or goats.

Laguna Canyon Foundation or the Orange County Fire Authority, both partners of the City in the proposal, were named for non-city jurisdiction.

“We are enthusiastic supporters of this project,” said Foundation Executive Director Hallie Jones.

Other partners in the grant proposal include the City of Irvine, Greater Laguna Coast Firesafe Council, Natural Communities Coalition (formerly Nature Reserve of Orange County) and Orange County Parks. 

“My family and Hallie’s family lost homes in 1993,” said Supervising Park Ranger Barbara Norton. “We are very sensitive to this.”

Letters of support for the City’s application were submitted by Mayor Kelly Boyd, State Senator John Moorlach, and Assembly member Matthew Harper.

The Council directed Pietig to identify and secure funds to meet the required grant match and to research and identify funds for the annual maintenance starting in 2023.