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CAL FIRE announced today it will direct nearly $118 million in funding for 144 local wildfire prevention projects across the State. Both Nevada County and the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County were awarded funds for their proposed projects.

Nevada County Woodpecker Ravine Shaded Fuel Break awarded $2,178,004

The Woodpecker Ravine Shaded Fuel Break project was identified in the 2020 and 2021 Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit’s Strategic Plan and has previously been identified in past Battalion 12 Ignition Management Plans. Woodpecker Ravine is located within high and very high fire severity zones just southeast of Grass Valley in Nevada County.

The area is flanked by State Highway 49 to the east and State Highway 174 to the north. Within the project Treatment Influence Zone are 711 homes valued at $168,390,283 and nearly 2,200 homes are in the 1-mile Project Influence Zone valued at $535,834,594. The two major evacuation routes in the Woodpecker Ravine are Lower Colfax Road and Rattlesnake Road; both lead to Highway 174, or south to other major roads such as Mt. Olive and Dog Bar Roads.

The area’s terrain and land slopes affect its susceptibility to wildfire spread. The volume of untreated vegetation within the Woodpecker Ravine and its steep drainage make it a prime location for fuels treatment. The County of Nevada aims to treat a strategic 754 acres, prioritizing critical infrastructure, evacuation routes, and strategic ridges.

The County of Nevada has applied for FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program and seeks to utilize this CAL FIRE grant to serve as a local match for a portion of the project. The County of Nevada partnered with the Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit when developing the federal grant application to identify a treatment priority of the unit that aligned with the goals and objectives of the BRIC grant. The application submitted is for a multifaceted $43 million project that proposes geographically targeted fuel modification and home hardening, coupled with a robust community education and engagement campaign.

Nevada County will incorporate art and science to generate conversation and action around what it means to live in a changing forest and how to create a more resilient, fire-adapted community in the face of this change. The BRIC grant aims to provide home-hardening to nearly 1,300 residences and defensible space assistance treating approximately 2,102 acres.

If funded, homeowners within the project footprint will have access to a cost-share program which will provide 70% cash-match incentives to residents up to $20,000 for home-hardening and $6,000 for defensible space implementation. 30% match is required by the applicant and Nevada County seeks Climate Change Investment funds through the CAL FIRE Fire Prevention program to complement this federal funding and make this project possible.

Fire Safe Council: Nevada County Chipping-Green Waste-Firewood Program awarded $1,551,770

FSCNC Executive Director Jamie Jones said, “We are ecstatic to be recipients of the CAL FIRE – Fire Prevention grant award. This award is essential to our community members who were impacted so heavily in the winter storms with downed vegetation. These funds will bring year round programming to our Green Waste Drop, Residential Chipping and program support for our partners at the Senior Firewood program at no cost to Nevada County residents.”

FSCNC (Fire Safe Council of Nevada County) is proposing 3 programs in this grant to mitigate the threat of wildfire to life, property, and the environment: drive by chipping service and green waste drop events which integrate the Senior Firewood Program. These programs will help to protect critical community lifelines including Communications, Energy, Public Safety, Transportation, and valuable community centers.

Most of Nevada County is rural with multiple tracts of low-income communities. Nearly one third (28.4%) of the Nevada County population is 65 years of age or older; 13.6% higher than the state average according to census data. With the whole community in mind, this project is intended to serve as a model for what a fire-adapted community can look like.

To substantively reduce the threat of wildfire losses within the Wildland Urban Interface, this project utilizes the best available science to inform wildfire risk reduction efforts at both the neighborhood and larger landscape levels.

December 26, 2021, our County experienced a series of devastating winter storms which brought down hundreds of thousands of trees and wreaked havoc on the power grid leaving over 30 thousand residents without power; Governor Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for counties to support the response recovery efforts for these winter storms.

This unfortunate event has placed a dire strain on those residents already struggling with the prohibitive cost and other barriers to creating defensible space and evacuation routes near their homes. Wait times for private contractors have gone from several weeks to several months due to the increase of tree damage.

The project size would include all of Nevada County with emphasis on high development areas in the State Response Area and targeted messaging to include Low Income, Access and Functional Needs, and other vulnerable residents.

Completion of 3000 chipping orders for residents will benefit 9000 additional residents in the community by expanding safe zones and reducing occurrence of crown fire.

By including vulnerable residents that may not otherwise be PRC4291 compliant in wildfire prevention activities we improve resilience community wide. Additionally, avoiding occurrence or increased size of wildfire means avoidance of flooding, erosion and mudslides that come later in the rainy seasons.

All prevention measures surrounding fire, further reduce risks to our water supply and vital watershed which expands impact of these activities to include California residents downstream that depend on that water supply.

“Drought conditions have once again taken ahold of California and are already contributing to another year of early fire activity,” said Joe Tyler, CAL FIRE Director and Fire Chief. “This funding is a critical part of our overall wildfire strategy.”