Open house set for Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project |

Open house set for Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project

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What: Open house about the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project

Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley, in the Main Street Center building

When: 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 4

Work on the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project has begun, Cal Fire said Wednesday.

People with questions about that project — which will create around a 1,200-acre shaded fuel break — can ask them at a 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4 open house at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Cal Fire crews from the Washington Ridge Camp, along with help from the state’s Native Plant Society, began clearing on Tuesday to reduce fuels and support forest health, a release states.

“This project has truly been a collaborative effort and we are excited for it to begin,” said sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pettitt, manager of the county’s Office of Emergency Services, in a release.

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According to Cal Fire, this project is the highest priority hazardous fuel reduction project in the Nevada County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The shaded fuel break is different from a fire break, because the shaded fuel break doesn’t remove all vegetation to bare mineral soil. Rather, living vegetation is modified or reduced to limit a fire’s ability to spread rapidly.

Cal Fire, Nevada County, the California Native Plant Society and Fire Safe Council of Nevada County are collaborating with property owners, including the county, to create a custom fuel reduction plan for each property. Cal Fire, the Fire Safe Council and the state Native Plant Society are working together to ensure cultural, archeological and environmental resources are protected. All work prescribed will be done in accordance with the best management practices outlined for Cal Fire’s emergency projects and will promote overall forest health and fire resilience.

“Not only will the project mitigate the risk of fire, but in the process, the project will protect the natural resources and enhance habitats critical for endangered species.” Cal Fire Forester Steve Garcia said.

This project was one of 35 priority projects identified by Cal Fire and Gov. Gavin Newsom to protect California’s most wildfire-vulnerable communities. Funding for this project was awarded to Nevada County through a combination of grant and contract dollars totaling $3.5 million.

This zone will provide an effective location for fire suppression activities. The entire footprint of the project includes 1,237 acres and offers protection to the communities of Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley and Rough and Ready to the west, as well as Grass Valley. The Fire Safe Council plans to complete 300 acres by Dec. 31, with the remainder of the project by February 2022.

“While it is not possible to eliminate wildfire risk in California, focused and deliberate action like the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project can protect communities and improve forest and fuels conditions to enable a more moderate and healthy wildfire cycle that can coexist with Californians,” Cal Fire Assistant Chief-North Division Jim Mathias said.

“It is an ambitious schedule, but our crews and partners are up to the task and the community support has been amazing. I’m confident we can reach our goals,” said Jamie Jones, executive director of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.

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