Following a destructive fire on June 22 and a tense standoff between the city of Paso Robles and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the two agencies agreed this week on an immediate plan to clear vegetation from the Salinas Riverbed.
Matt Keeling, executive director of the regional water board, said his office is “working expeditiously” to help Paso Robles implement a short-term plan to thin and remove dry brush from the riverbed. The work is expected to start the week of July 13.
Their agreement comes after a fire on June 22 exited the riverbed and destroyed two homes. The incident prompted a scathing letter from local elected officials, including Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), accusing the water board of obstructing city efforts to conduct fire prevention activities.
In an open letter to Paso Robles, Keeling wrote this week that “protecting public health and safety is a priority for the Central Coast Water Board.”
“The residents of Paso Robles are justifiably concerned about the prospect of a catastrophic fire ravaging their community,” Keeling said. “We have been and continue to be committed to working with the city to address the significant fire problem along the Salinas River channel running through the city.”
Paso Robles’ short-term mitigation plan involves building a fire break in the riverbed by clearing vegetation along its bank. The city proposes using masticators, weed-whips, mowers, and chainsaws—mechanized equipment that the water board previously would not allow…