‘Stronger together’: Deer Creek Southside Firewise Community creates firebreak to slow fire
Forest fires don’t stop for much — and that includes a global pandemic.
Members of the Deer Creek Southside Firewise Community have recognized this, and have continued working toward fire abatement, recently creating a firebreak, clearing vegetation with masticators from behind St. Canice Catholic Church down to Reward Street and over to Deer Creek in Nevada City.
The firewise community, which formed months ago, now watches over 305 acres of land and includes about 400 members, according to its committee outreach coordinator Lorraine Gervais. The community’s most recent project is not meant to stop a forest fire outright, according to Gervais and Sky Rutherford, a firewise member and operations manager for the local cannabis manufacturer, cultivator and distributor Jahlibyrd. Rather, it’s meant to slow a fire, allowing fire officials more time to access areas around the canyon and prevent much of Nevada City from burning.
“Our goal is to try to make this another access point down to the canyon,” said Rutherford.
“It’s really hard to stop a fire like that, it’s impossible,” added Gervais. “But if you slow it down, you can give people a chance to get out.”
Gervais, who considers herself “the squeaky wheel” to getting things done, began worrying before the firewise community had formed. She imagined a fire tearing through the ravine and back canyon, possibly destroying much of Nevada City in its wake and preventing her neighbors from exiting.
In December, Gervais helped to officially form the firewise group and in recent months, she said, three men on its clearing committee had already gotten to work. Neighbors in the 7 Hills Business District have been clearing their own brush and conducting limb abatement by hand. Three weeks ago, Jahlibyrd’s Sky Rutherford and Chris Anderson, the company’s owner, began clearing 10 acres of land and investing $10,000 of the company’s money for the project’s masticators, said Gervais. Robinson Enterprises has helped, too, said Rutherford, doing some clearing work at cost. The collective effort has given Gervais more room to breathe, and more confidence in the local community.
“You’re stronger together than you are separately,” she said.
Pat Kelly, a member of the firewise community, said he and two others have cleared a 250-foot swath of land from the Seven Hills Middle School to below the St. Canice Catholic Church. Kelly praised the Jahlibyrd workers for jumping into the firewise community so quickly and helping to lead the current project.
“We got more people involved in a little grassroots effort,” said Kelly. “We’ve accomplished quite a bit, and I think it’s going to be a big plus… even protecting the town itself.”
To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4219.
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