Jack London Park vulnerable to fire

Posted on May 29, 2014 by Sonoma Valley Sun

I am writing to you as your neighbor. Some of you know me from my winery, some of you know me from the community and many of you know me as a friend. But to all of you, I am truly your neighbor. I have lived in Sonoma Valley for 34 years, raised my family here and am now happily watching my grandchildren grow up here. Needless to say, I love this place we all call home, as you do.

Hard as it is to say this, our home is at risk. We haven’t seen a serious wildfire on Sonoma Mountain in 50 years. The devastation from the recent fires raging in San Diego area underscored to me how vulnerable we all are.

Following the driest year on record, one in which we only got eight inches of rain, the threat of fire is especially dire. We all must be on alert to our surroundings, creating defensible spaces at our homes and areas we frequent in the Valley, joining together to ensure our community is as safe as it can be.

One place that is particularly susceptible is Jack London State Historic Park. The park sits right in the middle of Sonoma Valley and it is not only incredibly beautiful but one of our community’s greatest natural and historical resources. I am on the board for the park, and we are keenly aware of what a fragile tinderbox the park is at this time.

Working with our local fire departments and Cal Fire, we are clearing the “fuel wood” that has collected and creating defensible space around the treasured historical buildings as well as places where people congregate. We are focused on the safety of our visitors, the people who work at the park, and all our neighbors. The work is hard but the choice is not. We must do this to preserve the park and our homes.

Recently we all rallied together, working hard to keep the park open. Now we want to keep it safe and beautiful for us all to enjoy and share with our children. As your neighbor, I encourage you to learn more about what we are doing at Jack London State Historic Park by visiting our website ( and see how you can help. Keeping our neighborhood safe is a job we all have to do together.

Mike Benziger
Glen Ellen

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