March 8, 2019 – In a 45-Day Report to Governor Gavin Newsom in response to Executive Order N05-19, CAL FIRE identified high priority fuels reduction projects which includes the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project in Nevada County.
The 1802 Acres Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project protects approximately 3,000 residences in the WUI communities of Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready and the City of Grass Valley, as well as the critical infrastructure for state commerce such as State Highway 20, Pacific Gas and Electric power and water infrastructure, and Nevada County facilities.
Within 1 mile of the project, there are 7 churches, 12 bridges, 6 schools, 3 fire stations, 2 government buildings, and 4 emergency shelter sites including 1 fair grounds. Total values at risk exceed $600 Million. The area has not burned for over 100 years and fuels have reached unmanaged and risky proportions.
The project lies between Rough and Ready Highway and McCourtney Road. The primary fuel type is brush and timber; secondary fuels are oak woodland with minimal grass and moderate brush component. Over 100 years of fuel buildup predominates the landscape.
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The CAL FIRE report identifies more than 30 strategically-defined local projects that can be addressed urgently in partnership with communities to make a difference this wildfire season. Examples include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and creation of ingress and egress corridors.
The report also recommends actions to accelerate measures such as home-hardening by educating the public and promoting use of CAL FIRE’s Ready for Wildfire App, which recommends steps residents can take to create defensible space and make their homes more resilient to wind-driven embers and other fire risk.
The report notes that California experienced the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in its history in 2017 and 2018, which killed over 100 people, destroyed more than 22,700 structures, and burned over 1.8 million acres. More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat, and the proliferation of new homes in the wildland urban interface magnify the threat and place substantially more people and property at risk than in preceding decades.