As fire consumed 66,000 acres in California Tuesday, it dominated much of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors' meeting.
The board pleaded in a letter to the Bureau of Land Management to reduce wood fuels on 17,000 acres of its property in Nevada County to help defend the county from flames.
"The citizens see all this furor over fires and wonder why BLM can't clean up their own properties - or at least allow the public to get on the land and do it," Supervisor Hank Weston said.
"While our citizens are required by the state of California to clear fire fuels at least 100 feet from their residences, they do not see BLM complying with these same regulations," Weston wrote in the board-approved letter. "In many cases, BLM parcels that are choked with flammable vegetation lie less than 100 feet from residential neighborhoods located in the outlying areas."
The BLM lands are scattered throughout the county, but much of it is located in the South Yuba and Bear River watersheds.
BLM has been helpful with grants to the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County for its chipping program and to the county's rural fire districts, the letter said. But to get areas next to residences cleared, such as Deadman's Flat in Penn Valley, BLM needs to come up with a Nevada County plan, the letter said.
Meetings around county
In a May 2006 letter to the board, BLM admitted that up to 300 fuel reduction projects were needed in Nevada County, but federal funding would only allow them to do several per year here. The board's letter said it would like to help BLM obtain more funding for projects here.
In a June 26 meeting of the Fire Safe Council, BLM and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, BLM Division Chief Ken Hood said a county fire plan is needed for BLM to budget for fuels reduction here.
A county fire plan has been in the works for the last few years.
The first draft will be released to the public July 20, County Planning Director Randy Wilson said. A series of public input meetings on the plan will begin the second week in August.
Board members asked for the meetings to occur in eastern, western and southern Nevada County. The Fire Plan committee would accommodate their wishes, Wilson said.
The plan has been embraced as common sense by some, while others called it a ruse by loggers to make money. Property owners have said the plan's provisions to have them clear their land could prove too costly and perhaps not even make a dent in an area stuffed with dry brush and tree fuels.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
Fire zone map meeting Thursday
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is updating its fire hazard area maps for Nevada County and will hold a public hearing on the matter from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The hearing will be at the Rood Center, 950 Maidu Ave., in Nevada City. The maps are used to determine legal requirements affecting property owners. For more information, call 277-2322 or log on to www.fire.ca.gov/wild land.php.