Quite the view. Photo YubaNet

COLFAX, Calif. August 1, 2019 – California Governor Gavin Newsom toured the North Fork American River Fuel Break near Colfax yesterday, one of the 35 priority projects destined to protect 200 of California’s most wildfire-vulnerable communities.

After the tour, Newsom signed an executive order adding nearly 400 seasonal firefighters to CAL FIRE engines throughout the state.

The CAL FIRE contingent at the press conference. Photo YubaNet

The additional firefighters will augment staffing on engines, effectively bringing engine companies up to 4-0 staffing (a minimum of four persons on each company) during peak fire season.

The North Fork project encompasses 850 acres in phase 1 and is about 30% complete. With the help of National Guard, CAL FIRE and private contractor crews, this shaded fuel break also preserves rare species and contributes to watershed and forest restoration.

Gov. Newsom with Colfax and Placer County officials. Photo YubaNet

Newsom stated the project abuts federal land and called for increased funding for those public agencies. He also thanked the National Guard crews for the great job they are doing in assisting CAL FIRE with these projects.

Morning Glory, not Marijuana

The Governor acknowledged not all projects are up and running. While some have been completed, others experience delays due to permits and process. One project along Hwy 17 requires several hundred permits and “Caltrans is not happy with us,” Newsom said.

“We got another one nearby, and it’s a cannabis issue. It’s a whole other conversation. That’s in Grass Valley, appropriately enough,” the Governor quipped.

However, we were unable to confirm the pot pun’s accuracy. CAL FIRE is unaware of any marijuana grows interfering with the project,  a cursory inspection of the project zone via Google maps has not revealed any telltale plantations either. A request for clarification to the Governor’s office has remained unanswered at publication time.

Calystegia stebbinsii, CDFW photo by Daniel Burmester.

The presence of rare and endangered plants on public lands has already been mapped and crews will not disturb these sites on the South Ponderosa project. CAL FIRE is working with the Redbud Chapter of the California Native Plant Society as they have done on a previous project at Nevada County’s Transfer Station.

The endangered Stebbins’ morning-glory is present in the area and thanks to the collaboration between the agency and the non-profit the number of plants has increased significantly.