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Volunteers create fuel break

By: Colin Berr Journal Staff Writer
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With saws in hand, approximately 100 Auburn residents set out for Robie Point early Saturday morning to clear out overgrowth and create a fire-safe fuel break. “It’s great to see people coming together to do service for the city of Auburn,” said Auburn Mayor Bridget Powers, with clipper in hand. Project Canyon Safe drew the coordinated efforts of the California Conservation Corps, AmeriCorps, Auburn City Council, fire department and more than 60 other volunteers. Workers arrived at 8 a.m. and worked until early afternoon, cutting limbs, hauling branches and clearing out hazardous growth throughout the 10-acre area. Kevin Hanley, the city councilman in charge of the project, spoke of some of the difficulties in getting the project on the ground. “We’ve been negotiating with the Bureau of Reclamation for years now and finally got this first project approved,” Hanley said. “Since it created the fuel break in 2002, the federal government just hasn’t been responsible in keeping this area fire-safe. We didn’t want to wait indefinitely, so the city took the initiative.” A numbers of bushwhackers and chippers, donated by Scott Serenbetz, sped the process along. “The lending of this equipment has been a big help,” said Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi. “Cut it, haul it, chip it, and it’s done!” Sweaty but smiling, volunteers supported one another throughout the day. “I’ve lived in this town for 60 years now and they haven’t run me out yet,” volunteer John Downs said. “I figure I owe them something.” Sawing away at a branch, Downs commended the work of volunteers and city officials. “The effort here has been truly remarkable,” he said. “Everybody needs to do more of this.” The Rotary Club of Auburn provided food and refreshments for the workers. “There really is a personal sense of responsibility and community here at Robie Point,”volunteer Mary Rossitto said. “It’s amazing how fast we’re getting everything cleared up. Many hands make light work.” Shuttles transported volunteers from the edge of Downtown Auburn to Robie Point. “We hope that this is the first of many clean-up efforts,” Hanley said. “One of the main benefits is that it sets a good precedent and puts in place a process where neighborhoods can work with the city and fed without the red tape.”