Nevada City, CA—The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has awarded the County of Nevada Office of Emergency Services (OES) with $3,914,536 to implement Phase II of the Woodpecker Ravine Shaded Fuel Break. This project, identified by CAL FIRE as a priority in the Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Strategic Plan will remove hazardous vegetation from 726 acres along critical primary and secondary evacuation routes, as well as strategic ridgelines. The goal is to reduce the intensity of a potential wildfire by removing excess vegetation along roadways to provide residents safer egress and first responders’ safer ingress. In combination with the $2,178,004 grant that CAL FIRE awarded OES last year for Phase I, the total treatment area comprises 1,136 acres.
“The Woodpecker Ravine Shaded Fuel Break Phase II project is another example of successful multi-agency cooperation in mitigating wildfire risk in Nevada County. The funding achievement is the culmination of multiple years of planning by Nevada County OES leadership, Nevada County Fire Safe Council staff, and CALFIRE. When properly implemented, projects like Woodpecker Ravine are vital elements of a community risk reduction model that prioritizes the protection of life, property, and resources in that order of importance. CAL FIRE is committed to support for projects like these and the organizations making great strides in assisting CALFIRE to serve and safeguard the people and protect the property and resources of California,” says CAL FIRE NEU Unit Forester Steve Garcia.
Woodpecker Ravine is located in Grass Valley, east of Empire Mine State Historic Park, west of South Wolf Creek, north of Alta Sierra, and south of State Highway 174. Selective thinning will take place within 150 feet of either side of primary evacuation routes and 75 feet of either side of secondary evacuation routes. A 150-ft shaded fuel break will be implemented on strategic ridges.
“With a harsh series of winter storms not far from our minds and one of the hottest summers on record, we don’t have to look far to see the impacts of climate change. The Woodpecker Ravine Shaded Fuel Break is just one piece of an ambitious holistic project planned for the area that will serve as a regional model for wildfire resilience,” says OES Senior Administrative Analyst, Alex Keeble-Toll.
OES applied for $31 million in federal funding to FEMA’s new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program in 2021. Last year, OES was informed their project Nature-based Mitigation & Wildfire Retrofitting for Climate Resiliency in Nevada County had been advanced by FEMA for environmental and cultural review, a critical step in the grant approval process. The project includes substantial funding for hazardous vegetation removal, defensible space treatments, home hardening, place-based education and requires a significant 25% local match.
“All too often federal projects of this size are out of reach for smaller rural jurisdictions because of the required match. We are grateful to our partners at CAL FIRE who are opening access and stretching the impact of this funding by covering a significant portion of the local match,” says OES Director, Craig Griesbach.
FEMA communicated that BRIC funds are expected to be obligated in fall of 2023. OES intends to use the grant funding from CAL FIRE for the Woodpecker Ravine Shaded Fuel Break to cover a portion of the required local match for the project.
Firewise Communities within the Woodpecker Ravine project footprint include Osborne Hill, Rattlesnake Neighborhood Association, Rattlesnake Ridge Estates, Lower Colfax, Casa Loma, and parts of the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association – East.