Grass Valley, Calif. August 21, 2019 – CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit in cooperation with Nevada County and the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County began work on County of Nevada property as part of the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project. Crews from CAL FIRE Washington Ridge Camp, with support from the California Native Plant Society, began strategic clearing to both reduce fuels and support forest health.
This is the highest priority hazardous fuel reduction project in the Nevada County Community Wildfire Protection Plan and is considered a shaded fuel break. Unlike a fire break, a shaded fuel break does not remove all vegetation to bare mineral soil. Rather, living vegetation is modified or reduced to limit a fire’s ability to spread rapidly.
CAL FIRE, Nevada County, the California Native Plant Society, and Fire Safe Council of Nevada County are collaborating with property owners, including the county, to create a custom fuel reduction plan for each property. CAL FIRE, Fire Safe Council of Nevada County and the California Native Plant Society are working together to ensure cultural, archeological and environmental resources are protected. All work prescribed will be done in accordance with the Best Management Practices outlined for CAL FIRE’s Emergency Projects and will promote overall forest health and fire resilience. “Not only will the project mitigate the risk of fire, but in the process, the project will protect the natural resources and enhance habitats critical for endangered species.” says CAL FIRE Forester II Steve Garcia.
This project was one of thirty-five priority projects identified by CAL FIRE and Governor Newsom to protect California’s most wildfire-vulnerable communities. Funding for this project was awarded to the County of Nevada through a combination of grant and contract dollars totaling $3.5 million.
“This project has truly been a collaborative effort and we are excited to for it to begin,” says Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Manager Captain Jeff Pettitt. This zone will provide an effective location for fire suppression activities. The entire footprint of the project includes 1,237 acres and offers protection to the communities of Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley, and Rough and Ready to the west, as well as the City of Grass Valley. Fire Safe Council plans to complete 300 acres by December 31, 2019 and the remainder of the project by February 2022. “While it is not possible to eliminate wildfire risk in California, focused and deliberate action like the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project can protect communities and improve forest and fuels conditions to enable a more moderate and healthy wildfire cycle that can coexist with Californians,” says CAL FIRE Assistant Chief-North Division Jim Mathias.
“It is an ambitious schedule, but our crews and partners are up to the task and the community support has been amazing. I’m confident we can reach our goals,” adds Jamie Jones, Fire Safe Council of Nevada County Executive Director. Private property owners within the proposed area have been contacted via mail. There is no cost to those who choose to participate. Questions or concerns should be directed to:
Fire Safe Council of Nevada County
Community members are encouraged to participate in a public Open House to address questions or concerns. The open house is set for September 4th from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in the main Street Center Building. Parking at Gate 1.