Nevada City, CA—Last week, the National Association of Counties, NACo, held its Annual Conference and Expo in Travis County, Texas. County District 1 Supervisor Heidi Hall was in attendance to receive the 2023 NACo Achievement Award: Best in Category on behalf of the Nevada County Oﬃce of Emergency Services (OES). County of Nevada stood out among its peers nationally in the Risk and Emergency Management category for implementing the ﬁrst of its kind “Firewise Communities Microgrant Program.”
The program was designed to address the abundance of ﬂammable vegetation on private property and roadways as a result of the 2022 snow storms. Fire prevention experts, local government leaders, and the public at large agree that clear evacuation routes are critical during a wildﬁre. OES Director, Craig Griesbach, said, “Historically, ﬁguring out how to support cleanup on private roadways has been an unmet need in our community. We were excited to be able to offer this program last year and will continue to look for resources that support these communities.”
The Firewise Communities Microgrant Program was funded with a $100,000 grant from the League of California Community Foundations’ Disaster Relief, Recovery and Resilience Funds with support from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation to administer directly to Firewise Communities. The program supported collaborative projects that provided community-wide beneﬁts, such as renting a chipper for community use, contracting for transportation of downed vegetation to processing sites, renting equipment, or hiring a contractor to clear evacuation routes on private roadways.
In total, 26 grants of $3,600 each were disbursed to Firewise Communities:
- 10 grants were awarded for roadside vegetation abatement projects
- 7 grants supported defensible space
- 5 grants were used to address hazardous vegetation
- 4 grants went toward the purchase of equipment
Nevada County boasts the most recognized Firewise Communities of any county in the nation. “One result of our participation in NACo conferences is the raised visibility of Nevada County’s unique rural issues, and our informed advocacy for right-sized solutions. It is inspiring to receive national recognition for our innovative community involvement in wildﬁre mitigation,” said Supervisor Hall. This program would not have been possible without the organization, dedication, and commitment of the Nevada County Firewise Communities. This award is a shared honor.