Grass Valley, Nevada City fire departments prepping for fire season |

Grass Valley, Nevada City fire departments prepping for fire season

It’s only early May, but Nevada City and Grass Valley are gearing up for fire season.

The cities’ fire departments want to get the word out and recently sent notices to all property owners to “remove all weeds, flammable vegetation and other combustible materials that constitute a fire hazard.”

Initial abatement must be completed by June 1, and maintained throughout the fire season, the notices state.

The notices signal the enforcement of vegetation management ordinances enacted by Grass Valley in 2018 and by Nevada City last year.

Last year, Grass Valley-Nevada City Fire Division Chief Sam Goodspeed said some notices went unheeded.

“We were more lenient,” he said. “It was the first year, so (we wanted) people to understand the program. This year, moving forward, we’re going to be enforcing with punitive measures, if necessary.”

Goodspeed was quick to say the cities are more than willing to work with homeowners, as long as there is communication.

“We like to work with the owners,” he said. “Last year, there seemed to be a shortage of vendors, people to do the work. Some people are on limited incomes, elderly people unable to get the work done.”

Because residential burning is banned in the city limits for Grass Valley and Nevada City, Goodspeed said, disposal options are limited to dumping or chipping. Nevada City has acquired a chipper through a grant, which has allowed the city to institute a residential chipping program. Information and applications are available on the city website:, then search for “chipping program.”

The cities are working on the properties they own, he said. In Nevada City, those include the old airport property, Sugarloaf Mountain and the Deer Creek area, which are being cleared with contracted crews from Washington Ridge.

Because the cities are relatively small, Goodspeed said it will not be difficult to enforce the ordinance, adding that the fire department also will respond to complaints from the public.

“There are fines that can be levied,” he said. “After (multiple) violations, we can do the work and then lien the property for reimbursement. If they don’t pay, they could forfeit the property — which is the worst-case scenario. Mostly we get good compliance, once (people) receive a notification to abate. We have had several large property owners within the city who really stepped up to the plate and did some tremendous work on their properties.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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