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Supervisors tour Ponderosa defense zone (PHOTO GALLERY)

Cal Fire and the Nevada County Fire Safe Council gave Nevada County supervisors and various area officials a firsthand look at work being done on the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project Tuesday afternoon during an on-site tour of private and county owned parcels.

The tour was part of the official business of the day for county supervisors, who had their questions answered regarding participation, effectiveness, and overall scope of the project.

“It really increases our chances of holding a fire here,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Matt Wallen said during the tour.

Tour attendees walked through the property of Ponderosa Way resident Greg Webster where wide swaths of land had been cleared, but not completely, giving the homeowner privacy and vegetation where it was still wanted.

“You’re not seeing a moonscape,” Wallen said in reference to the selective clearing.

“I couldn’t drive this pickup truck up that road due to the very thick manzanita. This is really going to allow us to get a good foothold, or get in hose lays. It gives us a good opportunity to fight fire,” Wallen said.

“We’re well on our way,” Nevada County Fire Safe Council project manager Matt Frink said. “We’ve hit the large parcels first. Now we’re starting to bring everyone else in on a first come, first serve from the time they’ve completed their forms.”

To date, the Ponderosa fuel break is 67% complete with 269 acres of land abated for wildfire, according to Frink.

“This is the most amazing group of people I have ever worked with in my life,” Webster said of the officials and crews conducting the brush clearing.

Webster had spent $5,000 of his own money to conduct brush clearing on his land for fire safety prior to the implementation of the Ponderosa project.

“I was deathly afraid,” Webster said. “It was so thick I couldn’t even walk through it.”

Still, with the successes experienced on the project, some are still leery about letting people onto their property to conduct the clearing.

“Personally, this is tens of thousands of dollars of work I would have had to spend on my own,” Webster said. “If you’re lucky enough to be within the footprint, go for it.”

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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