Nevada City, Calif. – CAL FIRE recently announced that the County of Nevada Office of Emergency Services received grant funding to complete the South County Shaded Fuel Break. The total cost of the project is $1,038,230, with $952,610 provided by CAL FIRE and an in-kind match from the County valued at $85,620. The project will treat 339-acres on 226 parcels, which will serve as a vital wildfire holding point and key evacuation route for residents. The project is a 150-foot-wide shaded fuel break along 9-miles on Buck Mountain Road, Lodestar Drive, and Brewer Road in the community of Alta Sierra.

The South County Fuel Break has been an important fuel modification endeavor for the CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer (NEU) Unit for several years and was included in both the 2019 and 2020 Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Strategic Fire Plans. The County of Nevada Office of Emergency services has been pursuing funding for this project since December 2019. “We are excited to fund and see the South County Fuel Break move forward. The project has been a priority for CAL FIRE NEU and we’ve been engaging interested landowners for several years,” said CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Chief Brian Estes. “This project is strategically designed to improve evacuation routes for a highly-populated area of Nevada County while providing firefighters a safer place to defend lives and property from a wildfire.”

All participation in this project is voluntary. More than 200 property owners will receive hazardous vegetation fuel thinning at no cost to them. Future maintenance will be required by the property owner as a condition of participation. Public-private partnerships in the Wildland Urban Interface like this are critical to addressing the elevated threat of wildfire seen in high and very high fire severity zones across the state of California.

Funding will support creating a shaded fuel break, or defense zone, along 75 feet on either side of the roadway. In contrast to a firebreak, which removes all vegetation, shaded fuel breaks space out vegetation so that tree crowns no longer touch, lower branches are pruned, and shrubs, as well as dead material, are removed to reduce ladder fuels.

“We are eager to get started. Our next steps will be to bring this item to the Board of Supervisors for acceptance after we receive the formal grant agreement from CAL FIRE. Residents interested in staying informed of project progress may sign up to receive updates,” says OES Program Manager, Paul Cummings.