It was an exciting day Tuesday for the Montecito community as one of at least six debris nets was installed in a canyon above the town.
Many are now relying on these nets to prevent another disaster like last year’s deadly mud and debris flow.
After a more than two-hour delay due to fog, a helicopter coming from Paso Robles was able to pick up the net and help install it in San Ysidro Canyon.
Those that have been involved in this project hope this will help put the community at ease.
“The anticipation has been really high and I think the community responded and has donated over $4.5 million on the idea of this and it’s starting to be very real now,” said Pat McElroy, Executive Director of the Partnership for Resilient Communities.
The nets are meant to slow down or catch rocks and debris that may come down the canyons, like what happened during the 1/9 Debris Flow.
The nets are also expected to increase the capacity of the debris basins.
“So most of the prevention for the fire department is making sure that the citizens are safe and we’re ready to respond to emergencies. So something like this that comes from an outside source and actually protects the community from a disaster happening is great,” said Battalion Chief Scott Chapman, Montecito Fire Department.
Once the net is fully installed, the designers say it will be 70 feet across and more than 20 feet high.
“The bottom row of the debris nets is three to five feet above the creek so it allows for the year-round passage of animals, fish and mammals alike,” McElroy said.
Members of the partnership for resilient communities say they’re grateful the community believed in the project.
“We have a bit more to go in terms of fundraising but today’s a landmark day for us because we’re putting in a net. It’s no longer something we’re talking about, it’s actually happening,” McElroy said.
Now that this net has been installed, the Partnership for Resilient Communities says they want to keep the momentum going and could install another net inside Cold Springs Canyon as soon as the end of this week.
The group says they’re still about $900,000 short of their fundraising goal.
Montecito now joins several communities around the world that have these debris nets.