NV County ramps up wildfire planning efforts in Truckee

Submitted to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — On the heels of Measure T, Truckee Fire Protection District’s successful tax measure to dedicate local funding for wildfire prevention, Nevada County’s Office of Emergency Services has worked to have an active presence in east County with an eye toward supporting collaboration and partnership.

Separated by the 7,000-foot Donner Summit, east and west Nevada County are different not only in ecology but in community make-up. Long recognized as a tourist destination, Truckee faces unique
challenges in wildfire preparedness and mitigation efforts, including those posed by seasonal population fluctuations and heavy recreational use. Several efforts led by Nevada County are currently underway to ensure that projects and programs align with community priorities and needs.

In July 2022, OES hired a County Wildfire Coordinator, a brand-new position charged with getting on the ground in communities across Nevada County to better understand what is working, what isn’t, and what is needed for our communities to be wildfire resilient. Through a dedicated effort that leverages the County Wildfire Coordinator to help strengthen collaboration between local government, special districts, fire departments, Firewise Communities, and the community at large, the County has made strides in uniting important wildfire efforts moving forward on either side of Donner Summit.

“I live in Truckee and my background is in forestry. It is such a privilege to know that the work I am doing on behalf of the County, alongside organizations like the Truckee Fire Protection District, the Tahoe Donner Forestry Department, and the Tahoe National Forest Truckee Ranger District, is helping to prepare the community and the landscape for wildfire,” said Alessandra Zambrano, Nevada County Office of Emergency Services, County Wildfire Coordinator.

County District 5 Supervisor Hardy Bullock said, “OES leadership and staff have made it a priority to help the County forge even stronger relationships here in Truckee. From turning out at Tahoe Donner Member Days and Truckee Thursdays to hosting the first ever east-side Quarterly Wildfire Stakeholder Meeting and presenting at the first-ever Coalition for Firewise Communities meeting in Truckee – OES’ commitment to engaging around the issues and interests unique to the east-side will go a long way toward supporting important mitigation efforts County-wide. Our recent appointment of an east-side Fire Safe Council Board member will help bring needed connection between all stakeholders, CalFire, Truckee Fire Protection District, our County team and the entire community. I’m very proud of the work we are doing in this area, our team is actively serving east County and making a difference.”

The County Wildfire Coordinator, who reports one day a week out of the Truckee Fire Protection District’s iconic downtown Station 91 has worked to build relationships with east-side Firewise Communities so that resources can be deployed to support them. For example, place-based knowledge helped bring direct green waste support to communities who were hardest hit by the 2023 winter storms via placement of free community green waste bins in Russell Valley, Kingvale, and Pla Vada.

This past year, the County of Nevada has been advancing three major strategic planning efforts – a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Update, Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update, and Evacuation Study – and engagement of east-side community members is integral to building this Roadmap to Resilience.

“The County Wildfire Coordinator has been spearheading our east-side community engagement on the Roadmap to Resilience by tabling, circulating critical community surveys, and coordinating online workshops to invite the community to help shape our path forward as we navigate extreme events including winter storms and wildfire,” said OES Director, Craig Griesbach.

This month, there are two opportunities for Truckee to learn more about the Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update that is part of the Roadmap to Resilience, as well as provide feedback on behalf of the Truckee/ Donner community.

There will be a Truckee/Donner Forecast Zone Virtual Lunch & Learn held on Wednesday, August 23 from noon – 1 p.m. Virtual, register at Truckee/Donner Lunch-and-Learn.

The county urges residents to take the Nevada County Community Wildfire Protection Plan Survey. The CWPP will assess Nevada County’s wildfire hazard and wildfire risk, as well as prioritize areas for multi-benefit wildfire risk reduction actions. Public participation is an essential part of the CWPP process. This survey will help Nevada County OES better understand how wildfire risk impacts our communities and will support the creation of a CWPP that is designed by the community it is intended to serve.

The survey is available online at CWPP Survey or email to request a hard copy.

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