Both Big Bear Lake and Big Bear City have earned the distinction of being named Firewise USA communities, an honor held by less than 500 cities and towns throughout the country. Residents can contribute to this fire-safe effort by clearing defensible space and taking advantage of free neighborhood curbside chipping of trimmed trees and dead vegetation. At present, the Big Bear City Fire Department is working their way through Fawnskin, before chipping in East Valley neighborhoods starts next week. Residents of Big Bear City, the North Shore, Shay Meadow area, Erwin Lake, Meadowbrook Estates and Lake Williams should have their chipping piles curbside by Monday, July 13. As of August 3, Bear City Fire will be chipping in the upper Moonridge area. For those in lower Moonridge, in neighborhoods within the City of Big Bear Lake, and all others on the south shore west of Division, the chipping program is on-demand; those who live in Big Bear Lake can call the chipper request line at 909/752-2805. The Big Bear Lake Fire Department, in partnership with the Sierra Club Big Bear Group, also offers a Firewise Planting Guide, which is specific to our community and available online at ThinIsIn.org. The Sierra Club will also offer free information on native and drought-tolerant plants when, on July 18, they host the 7th annual Xeriscape Garden Tour which, this year, will also feature a Firewise home. The free, self-guided xeriscape tour launches from Eminger’s Mountain Nursery (at 41223 Big Bear Boulevard, across from Denny’s in Big Bear Lake); attendees can pick up a tour map between 9am and noon, and then enjoy as many as eight homes featuring xeriscape gardens.