Nevada County to provide less money to Fire Safe Council | SierraSun.com

Nevada County to provide less money to Fire Safe Council

Laura Brown
Sun News Service

If approved by county supervisors, the local Fire Safe Council could get a much needed financial boost to partially fund its executive director and keep a Firewise Community program afloat.

But there’s no good news for landowners waiting to reduce piles of flammable brush in their yards: The money can’t be used to restart the council’s free chipping program, which has been frozen since last fall for lack of funds.

County supervisors will decide at 11 a.m. today whether to contribute $61,708 from a federal Forest Reserve Fund, a reduction from the $75,000 allocated last year.

“This will provide for a portion of my salary and overhead for this year,” said Fire Safe Council of Nevada County Executive Director Joanne Drummond.

The money is specific to administration and the Firewise Community Program, educating people about how to create defensible space against wildfire.

“It does not provide any direct (funding for) fuels reduction,” Drummond added.

Recommended Stories For You

Last year, Lake Wildwood became the first community to receive a Firewise Community designation in the county. This year, homeowners in Mountain Lake Estates are working toward that goal.

Since last summer, the state put a freeze on grants the Fire Safe Council depends on for much of its staffing and fuels reduction work.

Brush clearing contractors and other suppliers have gone unpaid, one full time and one part time staff person have been laid off, the council is looking for donated office space to cut costs, and the group is turning to fundraisers to replace lost state money.

A line of credit supplies Drummond’s monthly paycheck. Drummond earns about $50,000 a year, she said.

“Everybody has been laid off. I’m the only one left,” she said, adding that she works 50 hours per week now that she’s the only paid staff.

Supervisors will begin their regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. today in the board chambers of the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

Other items scheduled for board discussion include:

– Assigning a county vehicle to District 5 Supervisor Ted Owens.

– Vote on projects to be included in the Nevada County Transportation Commission’s 2009-10 overall work program.

– Additions to the Sanitation District Code.

– Public hearing and approval of county’s five-year housing plan and yearly update.

– Amend county zoning regulations regarding employee housing.

– Hearing and resolution to revise Lake Vera-Round Mountain Fire Safe Plan.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.