February 8, 2019 – Thursday, February 7th, the County hosted the second Wildfire Prevention Stakeholder Meeting, gathering nearly 70 community leaders from local, state and federal agencies and organizations. This meeting offered an opportunity to work across jurisdictional boundaries to increase community wildfire resilience. Participants included: elected officials, municipal leadership, and representatives from local fire districts and fire departments, CalFire, California State Parks, Caltrans, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Coalition of Fire Wise Communities, County of Nevada Sheriff’s Office, Community Development Agency, Office of Emergency Services and Public Works staff, Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, Bureau of Land Management, KNCO, KVMR, Nevada County Digital Media, Nevada County Resource Conservation District, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, Nevada Irrigation District, Pacific Gas and Electric, Sierra Business Council, South Yuba River Citizens League, Tahoe National Forest, The Union, Truckee Fire Department, Truckee Police Department, University of California Cooperative Extension, Yuba Watershed Institute, YubaNet and more.

The objectives of the meeting were 1) bring together community organizations with a shared wildfire prevention mission, 2) establish ongoing coordinated approach to wildfire prevention priorities, projects, and public awareness activities, and 3) maximize local, state and federal resources for the greatest community impact.

Nevada County’s 2019 Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Preparedness Plan

Attendees heard from County of Nevada’s Information, General and Emergency Services Director, Steve Monaghan, who introduced the County’s draft 2019 Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Preparedness Plan and unveiled upcoming updates to the Hazardous Vegetation Ordinance . The ordinance will soon be strengthened to encourage increased fire-safe property maintenance activities and provide enhanced enforcement capabilities.

CalFire in Nevada County

CalFire Forester, Steve Garcia and Division Chief, Jim Mathias, connected with attendees about the Unit Strategic Fire Plan for Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit and their process for prioritizing fuels treatment projects across Nevada County. They also introduced a draft county-wide projects map, which when built-out, will display completed, in progress and proposed hazardous vegetation projects conducted by stakeholders across jurisdictions in Nevada County. This map is being developed and will soon be available to the public.

Update to Safety Element of Nevada County General Plan

Coleen Shade, a County of Nevada Senior Planner, informed the group of her efforts to update the Safety Element of the General Plan which will has a significant focus on wildfire.

PG&E Community Wildfire Prevention Program

Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) Sierra Division Public Affairs Officer, Brandon Sanders, and Richard L. Hadley, Sr. Government Relations Representative Integrated Public Affairs Officer, presented on the company’s robust Community Wildfire Prevention Program. This program includes monitoring, enhanced safety measures and system hardening. PG&E will continue to monitor conditions across their system and evaluate whether to proactively turn off electric lines, as a last resort, in the interest of public safety. Factors that will contribute to whether PG&E implements a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) include: declaration of a Red Flag Warning, low humidity levels, forecasted sustained winds above 25mph and wind gusts in excess of 45mph, condition of dry fuels, and on-the-ground, real-time observations.

Community Collaboration

The Fire Safe Council., the Office of Emergency Services and the South Yuba River Citizens League highlighted upcoming opportunities to collaborate with the public and civic organizations. The Fire Safe Council reported out on a recently awarded grant which will fund free green waste disposal sites to communities throughout Nevada County. Residents can expect to have access to these free disposal sites this spring. The South Yuba River Citizens League presented on a project they are pursuing with the Camptonville Community Partnership, Yuba Water Agency and the Tahoe National Forest to support forest health projects and green waste processing infrastructure in the region. Staff from the Office of Emergency Services shared upcoming public awareness events produced in partnership with the fire prevention community including another Town Hall event, a monthly fire preparedness series at the Madelyn Helling Library and a film screening of Wilder than Wild.

Next Steps

Looking forward, the County will continue facilitating this community stakeholder process for wildfire, increasing the momentum and collaboration already established by the many organizations and agencies working on wildfire prevention in Nevada County. Collectively, the group will track state and federal funding opportunities and identify opportunities to collaborate across jurisdictions on fire prevention projects, such as fuel treatments and fuel breaks. In addition, the group will work together to update the Community Wildfire Prevention Plan and the Nevada County portion of CAL FIRE’s Unit Strategic Fire Plan. From this large stakeholder group, smaller working groups will focus on various initiatives, such as public awareness and education and evacuation planning/preparedness, to continue progress in wildfire prevention efforts.

Wildfire reduction has been a top priority and area of focus for the Board of Supervisors, including supporting and working with our community partners. The Wildfire Community Stakeholder group will continue to meet quarterly to continue the collaboration amongst allied agencies working on wildfire prevention. By approaching wildfire prevention together, the community will be poised to maximize state and federal resources to achieve a greater impact for the entire county.