Prioritizing fire prevention a first step |

Prioritizing fire prevention a first step

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunThe Nevada County Fire Safe Council is prioritizing fire hazards throughout the county to submit projects for federal funding. Areas with dense timber stands and downed trees will be the highest priorities.

Evaluating risky hot spots around the county, the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County is prioritizing fire-prevention projects in its search for funding.

Formed in 1998, the nonprofit Fire Safe Council has worked on fire-hazard reduction projects across the county, participating in green waste pickup programs, and educating the public on wildfire issues in the Truckee-Tahoe area.

To tackle fuels-reduction projects more aggressively, however, the council is now setting priorities as it applies for grants from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, said council Executive Director Joanne Drummond.

“Up until this point, it’s really individual communities driving projects ” homeowner associations asking for assistance,” Drummond said. “The (Bureau of Land Management) and Forest Service offer funding for fuels treatment, but with all the applications coming in, they had no way to prioritize projects, so they tasked the counties to prioritize for future funding.”

To help establish those priorities, the council is asking county residents what they see as important enough to protect, said David Ganz, a council consultant.

The nonprofit agency is asking the public to prioritize parcel values, the ecosystem, fire hazard, roads and infrastructure for importance in protection, Ganz said. At a council meeting in Truckee Wednesday, Drummond said the public placed a high value on saving homes in Truckee.

“It’s up to the community, not fire officials,” she said of the planning process.

The council held a similar meeting in Grass Valley on Thursday. While the council’s efforts began in western Nevada County, Truckee Assistant Manager Alex Terrazas said he has been working closely with the council to keep the township in the running for funding.

Drummond said Truckee will likely get at least one project among the top three priorities.

The next round of federal funding will become available in February, so Ganz said the council is hoping to end the public-comment period by Nov. 25 and finalize its list of priorities by January,

But public comment is still welcome after Nov. 25, he said, and will be integrated into next year’s plan.

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