Nevada County, CA December 1, 2022 — Eligible property owners are receiving information outlining how to participate in this critical fuel reduction program. The South County Shaded Fuel Break is a priority fuel reduction project in Nevada County that will slow the spread of wildland fires and improve ingress/egress routes in an emergency. Funding for this project is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (CAL FIRE) Fire Prevention Program as part of the California Climate Investments Program.

CAL FIRE recently identified this project as a top priority to protect one of California’s most wildfire-vulnerable communities. “This is a proactive step to make our whole county safer and reduce fire intensity, particularly for the Alta Sierra and Lake of the Pines communities,” says Jim Mathias, CAL FIRE Assistant Chief – North Division/WAR/CNA Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit. “Dense vegetation allows rapid fire growth and can hinder evacuation of residents. Lighter fuels, often grasses, associated with fuel breaks, provide opportunities for indirect fireline construction through backfire or burn-out operations. This consumes fuel ahead of the spread of the fire. Fuel breaks also increase fireline construction rates, reduce the fire-retardant coverage level required to effectively coat vegetation, and provide for points of access and travel for ground-based firefighters,” he adds.

This opportunity is available to property owners within the South County Project area at no cost. The shaded fuel break defense zone will not remove all vegetation and is not intended to prevent the spread of wildfire entirely. The defense zone is designed to slow the spread of fire and provide a safe and effective location for evacuation and fire suppression activities, including staging ground resources for direct fire attack.

“We plan to treat 339 acres by December 24, 2024, and are asking residents to partner with us to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in our community. Because nothing will be done without property owners’ approval, we must work together to ensure the work gets done promptly,” says Fire Safe Council Executive Director Jamie Jones.

Nevada County Office of Emergency Services applied for and was awarded the CAL FIRE grant late last year and has partnered with Fire Safe Council of Nevada County to manage the program. A California Registered Professional Forester will develop a fuel reduction treatment plan for each property. Property owners will review and approve their custom plan before the commencement of fuel reduction. Work prescribed will be done in accordance with the California Forest Practice Rules and will promote overall forest health and fire resiliency.

“We want effective and clear communication throughout the process with our residents,” adds County OES Director, Craig Griesbach. “It takes a community effort to bring resources, crews, and property owners together. We continue to be impressed with how our residents understand the challenges we all face when it comes to wildfire,” he adds.

A town hall meeting will be held on December 8th from 6 pm-8 pm at the Alta Sierra Country Club with agency partners CAL FIRE, a registered professional forester, County of Nevada Office of Emergency Services, and Fire Safe Council on hand to address questions or concerns that property owners might have with right of entry, prescriptions, project benefits, landowner match verification, and maintenance agreements. Residents with questions should contact Fire Safe Council of Nevada County at https://www.southcountyproject.org or by phone (530) 272-1122.