Yuba Water Agency funds program to reduce fire risk, improve watershed health in foothills

September 17, 2019 – In an effort to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the Yuba County foothills and preserve the critical water supply of the Yuba River, Yuba Water Agency today approved a $45,000 grant to launch a Firewise USA Site Activation Program.

The Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council will manage the program, which is designed to assist rural residents in collectively improving the fire resistance of their homes, properties and community, and completing the necessary requirements to become a Certified Firewise USA Site.

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“Not unlike the water conservation program we offer in the valley, this is a way Yuba Water Agency can help residents directly,” said Yuba Water Agency Vice-Chairman Randy Fletcher. “By encouraging and sponsoring these Firewise sites, we are reducing the risk for the people who live in the foothills, and protecting our precious water resources at the same time.”

A certified Firewise USA Site can range anywhere from eight to 2,500 residences, and can be a street, subdivision, homeowner association, or other geographical location, as determined by the residents. Certified sites are formed to improve the fire resistance of neighborhoods, protect watershed health and reduce the negative environmental and water quality impacts that a wildfire could have in the area.

While residents can perform much of the work necessary to become a certified Firewise Site, those efforts also require specific support from trained defensible space advisors, geographic information systems (GIS) specialists and registered professional foresters or fire scientists.

The funds from Yuba Water’s grant will be used for developing fire hazard and risk assessments, GIS mapping, program outreach and training for the defensible space advisors.

Another portion of the grant will be used to bring the National Fire Protection Association’s Take Action – Teens for Wildfire Safe Communities program to the foothills, which is designed to get teens involved in the process of helping communities be better prepared for a wildfire event.

“This funding will jumpstart a program that we desperately need in order to make significant improvements on the ground in our rural neighborhoods,” said Steve Andrews, coordinator for the Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council. “So many of our foothill residents want to put the work in to get their defensible space in order, but they often don’t know exactly how to go about it. This grant will give us the resources to help advise and encourage these folks to work individually and together as neighbors to make a difference.”

Yuba Water Agency is able to fund efforts like this to reduce fire risk because they improve water supply and reduce the negative water quality impacts that a wildfire could have on the Yuba River Watershed.

For people interested in creating a firewise site visit yubafiresafe.org or contact the Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council at 530-274-6455.