Nevada County lowers barriers for defensible space creation

OES to host free residential green waste disposal in May

Nevada County’s Office of Emergency Services over the next two months will host its second annual free residential green waste disposal program to help residents prevent and mitigate wildfire risk in the coming dry season.



Where: 2625 Brunswick Road, Grass Valley

Dates: Drop-offs on May 21-24, June 11-14

Time: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Where: Truckee Rodeo Grounds, 10695 Brockway Road, Truckee

Dates: Drop-offs on May 14, June 4 and 25

Time: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Administrative Analyst Jenn Tamo, of the Office of Emergency Services, said western county’s green waste will be sorted after participants drop it off. Once sorted into piles, the county will use a massive grinder to process the material and offer it back to the community the following weekends.

Tamo said her office will have the capacity to load participants’ empty truck beds for them with recycled green waste collected from western county between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. the Friday and Saturday following the drop-offs.

“People can incorporate it back into their landscape for erosion control, weed abatement and moisture control,” Tamo said.

The county connected with members of the agricultural community last year who wanted the mulch “en masse.”

Tamo said the county hopes to not only encourage, but incentivize members of the community to steward their spaces and reduce the risk of wildfires.

“We’re trying to lower barriers for folks,” Tamo said. “We know every homeowner is in a different situation — financially and physically — with what they’re able to do.”

Creating defensible space around one’s home ought to be a year round effort, but events like this make the process more affordable and accessible.

Fire preparedness funding for residents is limited and less than what’s allocated to help businesses, Tamo said, so highlighting the drop-offs is crucial to connect individuals in need.

“Our homes are really built in the wildland,” Tamo said. “I look out my backyard and I see towering pines and cedars.”


Tamo said her office received less funding than usual for the resident-focused project because California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is contingent on what is collected through the gas tax, and people across the state drove less since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Her office is in the process of applying for a grant offered by the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, a process delayed by the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tamo said the community’s source of beauty can also be a source of danger, if people fail to recognize and embrace their personal responsibility to the land and their community.

“What that requires of homeowners is active participation and stewarding the land in order to make it more fire safe,” Tamo said.

Tamo said these timely events are also meant to help focus people’s attention on the “ready” in the county’s “Ready, Set, Go!” fire preparedness initiative.

The Nevada County community has already demonstrated its desire to proactively protect their community in various contexts, she said.

Following the Camp Fire in late 2018, Tamo recalled a town hall with Cal Fire, California Highway Patrol, her office and law enforcement “spilling into every private board room at the Rood Center.”

“The community was engaged and hungry for information,” Tamo said. “There’s been an uptick in large, catastrophic fires in the last couple years. Folks responded to that and are trying to do all they can to make properties more safe.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for the Sierra Sun and The Union, a sister publication of the Sun.

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