State and federal agencies are giving away money to community groups trying to protect themselves from fire, an official from the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County said this week.
Grant applications are due Feb. 2, 2006, and help is available for groups trying to turn their creative fire-protection ideas into reality, said Fire Safe Council administrative assistant Natalie Russell.
Neighbors in the Owl Creek area, off Jones Bar Road, this year cleared underbrush 30 feet from each side of six miles of roadway. The area cleared totaled about 30 acres, Russell said.
In October, neighbors in the area of Red Dog and You Bet roads saw to the clearing of 15 miles along key local evacuation routes. Brush was cleared for 15 feet on either side of the roadways for a total of about 50 acres of cleared area.
In each case, the clearing cost about $1,000 per acre, which is typical for such projects, Russell said.
"We're looking for neighbors who have some ideas and need some help solidifying those ideas to get their proposals done," Russell said.
Other ideas for community fire safety projects, Russell suggested, include:
Creating a community wildfire protection plan.
Clearing a safe-to-stay zone where people can gather during a fire when they cannot leave the area.
Installing a water tower for fighting local fires.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U. S. Department of Forestry and the U.S. Park Service are among the agencies that pony up the money for such projects each year, Russell said.
The most successful proposals typically cost $50,000 or less.
The roadside clearing projects create both defensible fire breaks and safe evacuation routes by removing dense vegetation that fuels fire up into the trees, Russell said.
The overgrown roadways "look nice, but it's not healthy for the forest itself and makes the trees susceptible to disease and bugs," Russell said.
For more information about the services offered, go to the council's Web site at www.firesafecouncilnevco.com.
To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4231.