As worsening drought conditions continue to place Humboldt County at risk of a wildfire disaster, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) is launching a new program which will allow commercial agriculture producers to attend to their crops or livestock inside a wildfire evacuation zone.
“The August Complex Fire was the first time in several years that a wildfire required a large-scale evacuation in a portion of Humboldt County,” OES Manager Ryan Derby said. “Through that incident, the need for agricultural access to evacuation zones became increasingly apparent and an interim plan was put in place to meet that need. The Restricted Area Access Pass Program has been developed with consideration of the issues and lessons learned from the 2020 fire season.”
Agricultural producers, licensed commercial cannabis cultivators and commercial livestock operators must submit an application to OES by October 15, 2021, for verification and enrollment into the Restricted Area Access Pass Program. Once enrolled, the participant is issued a personalized pass which, based upon safety conditions and incident status, may be used to gain entrance into an evacuation zone or other restricted area in order to provide food, water, medical treatment or other care to large-scale commercial livestock, and/or to tend to crops.
“The access pass is not a guaranteed permit to enter a restricted zone but is a necessary pre-registration step making it easier for agricultural producers to access their livestock or crops during an emergency,” Derby said. “Please make every effort to apply for this program prior to an emergency occurring.”
How it Works
The passes will be administered and approved through OES, in partnership with the county Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and the Planning & Building Department. Once issued an access pass, agricultural producers with operations located within an evacuation zone must notify OES or the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office of their interest in accessing the property. Authorization to enter restricted zones will be given daily and decided based upon the conditions. The pass holder will be notified of approval.
Following notification, pass holders can access their property through a law enforcement checkpoint during daylight hours. The Restricted Area Access Pass does not grant authority to the pass holder to stay at their residence and/or business when an evacuation order is issued.
The access passes will be valid through December 31, 2021. Producers must apply yearly for an access pass.
“In the event that Humboldt County experiences fires or other natural disasters, the AgPass Program will be critical for ensuring that agricultural producers can respond to care for and protect crops and livestock in as timely a manner as conditions allow,” Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Dolf said.
Humboldt County residents can learn more about the Restricted Area Access Pass Program and apply at https://humboldtgov.org/3162/Restricted-Area-Access-Pass-Program.
All Humboldt County residents are encouraged to prepare now for wildfire season by creating a wildfire action plan, assembling an emergency supply kit and creating a family communication plan. To ensure you receive the most up-to-date information and emergency alerts, sign up for Humboldt ALERT, Humboldt County’s emergency alert system.
Find out more about how you can protect yourself and your family from wildfire at readyforwildfire.org.