Nevada County starts work on Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project
Work starts now toward creating a 1,200-acre shaded fire break near Grass Valley.
Officials involved in the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project expect to contact area property owners before the month ends. Landowners need to agree to join in the project for it to become reality. However, past experience has shown firefighters that reluctant property owners change their minds after seeing results on neighboring land.
“The proof is in the pudding, so to speak,” said Cal Fire Forester Steve Garcia at Tuesday’s Nevada County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The project — extending from a portion of Squirrel Creek Road south across Highway 20 and past McCourtney Road — has two funding sources. One million in state dollars will pay for 300 project acres. Officials are targeting completion for year’s end on that aspect of the project.
Another $2.5 million in Cal Fire funds, along with a $30,000 in-kind match from the county, will pay for the remaining 900 acres, said Stephen Monaghan, the county’s chief information officer.
Officials also anticipate starting work immediately on that part of the project, continuing it for two years.
“We need to hire a biologist,” Monaghan told supervisors. “We need to hire a forester.”
Supervisors on Tuesday approved moving forward with the project, granting Monaghan authority to make the needed hires.
Jamie Jones, executive director of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, noted that the project calls for a shaded fuel break.
“We are not clearing people’s lands,” she said. “We want to be very sensitive to the ecological concerns.”
The shaded fire break will leave healthy trees, providing shade and making it difficult for new fuels to grow. No clear cutting will occur.
The large project area gives officials leeway. If a landowner opts against being involved, they can work around them. Over time some of those property owners will change their minds after seeing the results on neighboring land, Garcia said.
“I just think this is a great area to start,” said Supervisor Dan Miller, whose district contains part of the project.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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