Cal Fire awards $2.37M to Nevada County agencies for fire prevention
Special to the Sierra Sun
Wildfire prevention efforts in Nevada County got a major boost with the news that Cal Fire awarded the county’s Public Works Department, and Truckee Fire Protection District, a combined $2.37 million.
Cal Fire announced awards of $43.5 million Tuesday to organizations across California, funding 55 local fire prevention projects involving hazardous fuel reductions, wildfire preparedness planning and fire prevention education.
The Fire Prevention Grant Program is part of the California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment, particularly in low income and disadvantaged communities.
“We have doubled down on our efforts to clear brush, inspect homes for defensible space and reduce the risk of wildfires,” said Cal Fire Director Chief Thomas Porter in a press release.
Truckee will receive $1.5 million for a fuel reduction project as part of the Truckee area Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which works with multiple community subdivisions and organizations. This project will facilitate vegetation management on Truckee right of ways and individual shaded fuel breaks that occur on approximately 8,000 acres of wildland-urban interface with approximately 7,200 habitable structures, the project description states.
“We’re going to treat approximately 682 acres,” said fire district forester Jeff Dowling. “We’ll be removing small trees and brush within 15 feet of the rights of way.”
According to Dowling, work on shaded fuel breaks will entail “essentially taking the understory — the brush and small trees— and leaving large trees, to eliminate the ladder fuels.”
“We want the fire to stay on the ground,” he said. “We can manage the fuel. We can’t manage the weather or the topography.”
Dowling estimated an agreement would be in place by this fall with work starting next year. The fire district would then have three years to complete the project, a goal Dowling was confident it could accomplish.
“I’m grateful we were awarded (funding), it was very competitive,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing for the community.”
The Nevada County Department of Public Works’ Egress/Ingress Fire Safety Project was awarded $868,084, Cal Fire’s press release stated.
The project will remove hazardous fuel along public roads throughout the county, allowing Public Works to substantially expand its roadside vegetation management program, said Public Works Director Trisha Tillotson.
“We’re really excited,” she said. “This is completely in alignment with the Board of Supervisors’ No. 1 goal, to improve evacuation routes, to create safer routes county-wide.”
County Information Officer Steve Monaghan agreed, saying, “Nevada County is grateful for another opportunity to collaborate with Cal Fire on a large-scale hazardous vegetation reduction project. This project gets after our County OES’ goal of creating safer evacuation routes county-wide to save lives. (A) roadside hazardous vegetation clearing grant is something our county needs and our residents have been asking for.”
According to Tillotson, existing funding sources paid for vegetation management on about 70 miles of county roads. This new grant will pay for long-lasting, intensive vegetation management for 200 miles, she said, which will benefit the county significantly.
Gas tax funds help maintain roadways, Tillotson said, but are not intended to conduct intensive vegetation removal along entire rights of way.
“This (money) is really going to help,” she said.
The work which will probably get underway next spring, will entail removal of overcrowded trees and shrubs, thinning the entire forest area, Tillotson said.
“It’s really about creating a healthy forest,” she said.
Liz Kellar is a reporter for The Union, as sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in Grass Valley. Contact her at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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