Nevada County fills position focused on fire prep |

Nevada County fills position focused on fire prep

John Orona
Staff Writer
Submitted Photo/ G Aronow Photography

With fire safety at the forefront of many minds, the Nevada County executive office leadership team last September added deep-rooted local Caleb Dardick to fill a project administrator position overseeing the Board of Supervisors’ priorities of wildfire prevention and emergency planning.

“Caleb’s extensive background in public policy as well as his vast local connections have served the county well and I am extremely proud to have him on our executive team,” County Executive Officer Alison Lehman said in an email. “This is just one strategy of many to create capacity within the county to address community needs around wildfire.”

Dardick, son of former Nevada County supervisor and disability rights activist Sam Dardick, previously worked in public relations and public affairs consulting for business, political and nonprofit clients before heading the South Yuba River Citizens League as executive director from 2011 to 2017.

According to Dardick, while there’s some general direction on what needs to be done, including creating safer evacuation routes, improving early warning systems and emergency communications, reducing fuel loads, increasing defensible space and enhancing critical infrastructure, part of his task will be to galvanize consensus on what to prioritize with limited funding.

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“What we’re trying to do is build a consensus between the county and the cities and the fire districts and other stakeholders about what can we do that would make the biggest difference,” Dardick said. “We need to get everyone agreeing that this is where we should put our energy and time.”

He said while getting everyone on the same page can be a challenge, with the community already sharing the goal of fire safety, he’s hoping a little listening will go a long way in what might take a countywide concentrated effort.

“This is an unusual community because we work together, we respect one another and we come together and I experienced that at SYRCL,” Dardick said. “We need to reduce the fuel loads significantly enough to slow down the speed and intensity of a fire to allow community members the time to evacuate safely and for first responders to get in and combat the blaze. This needs to be down in a larger scale than we’ve eve r done and it needs to be done sustainably.”

While the position Dardick stepped into isn’t new, it went unfilled until Lehman decided last summer to look for someone to assist the county with wildfire preparedness needs.

The part-time position pays $46 an hour. Dardick works around 20 to 32 hours a week.

“There is urgency to the issue and additional support was needed,” Lehman said. “Caleb has been instrumental coordinating with our local partners including the cities, fire districts, Cal Fire, Fire Safe Council and community stakeholders.”

Although the position is temporary and part time now, Lehman said due to the progress shown with the position filled it may become permanent as soon as the next fiscal year.

“Wildfire is not only a board priority but it is a community priority,” Lehman said. “The county is being proactive in working with our community partners investing strongly in wildfire preparation. Planning, partnering and working together is more critical than ever.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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