Finally, a place to chip away at brush |

Finally, a place to chip away at brush

With just a few months remaining before its June 30 deadline, Nevada County’s Fire Safe Council has found a new site for a wood-chipping operation, which was opposed by neighbors of the original location.

Sierra Pacific Industries has agreed to lease 5 acres at the old Bohemia Mill site on Brunswick and East Bennett roads to the nonprofit Fire Safe Council for one year, Executive Director Michelle Phillips said.

The grant-support operation is aimed at helping ease fire danger by converting brush and scrappy trees into mulch and other usable wood products.

The council’s $312,000 federal grant remains in danger, however, because the group needs to obtain the necessary permits and have the center operating by June 30, a task Phillips fears might not be possible without county cooperation.

Planning Director Randy Wilson said county planners have received the Fire Safe Council’s application to speed up the permit process and were “working on processing (it) as quickly as possible.”

Associate Planner Karry Przepiorski said the issue is tentatively scheduled for a April 28 hearing at the Nevada County Planning Commission and would be considered in the usual manner.

With the help of Supervisor John Spencer, the Fire Safe Council recently obtained permission from landowner Sierra Pacific Industries to use the former sawmill site, Phillips said.

The discovery could cap a year-and-a-half long search for a home for the proposed center.

Most recently, the council proposed locating the equipment on a Bureau of Lane Management parcel south of Grass Valley. Neighbors revolted, forcing the council to search elsewhere.

In 2003, the council obtained a grant to open the center, which would support its chipping program, which grinds brush for Nevada County residents at no cost. Currently, the mulch is spread on site, a situation that could pose a fire danger, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection regional chief Tony Clarabut has said.

Phillips said the Nevada County Board of Supervisors will discuss the issue at its Tuesday meeting.

“We are asking residents to contact their district supervisor and let them know they support an expedited process so we don’t lose these federal funds,” Phillips wrote in a news release.

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