Nevada County supervisors take action to address wildfire concerns | TheUnion.com

Nevada County supervisors take action to address wildfire concerns

Nevada County officials took three steps on Tuesday they said will help address wildfire concerns.

First the Board of Supervisors approved over $50,000 toward an enhanced defensible space inspection program. Then they amended their hazardous vegetation abatement ordinance. That was followed by a move to hire a registered professional forester who will help bring more firewise communities to Nevada County.

Supervisors approved all three in unanimous votes.

The first step — a $51,200 payment to the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District — will bring a coordinated system of defensible space inspections to the area.

“We want to raise the bar and bring it to the next level,” said Stephen Monaghan, the county’s chief information officer.

The county’s Office of Emergency Services currently has an inspection program. The new program, developed and managed by Consolidated, will focus the efforts of four county inspectors and two firefighters on inspecting properties and managing compliance efforts.

One inspector already is hired. County officials want to hire the other three over the next few weeks.

“People are calling all year round now,” Monaghan said. “It’s just overloading our lines. We’ll set up a new number.”

Monaghan expects a hotline will come online over the next month. People currently call the emergency services’ main phone number with complaints.

Specific aspects of the program remain unknown. Monaghan said it’ll take time to work through “growing pains” with Consolidated officials.

“I’m really excited about this,” Supervisor Heidi Hall said. “Very excited.”

The second step — an updated hazardous vegetation ordinance — tweaks fines landowners can receive for failing to bring their property into compliance.

Under the new ordinance county officials can levy an administrative fine. A first offense is $130, followed by $700 and $1,300 for second and third offenses, respectively. A public officer has discretion in issuing a fine, Monaghan said.

The old ordinance required officials to convict a property owner of a misdemeanor before levying a fine, he added.

The third step — providing another $10,400, for a total of $70,400, to the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County — will hire a forester. The forester will help certify 10 new firewise communities.

The national firewise program focuses on community involvement. It offers information to reduce wildfire risk.

“I think we all agree that this is money well spent,” Supervisor Richard Anderson said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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