Truckee Fire stumps for Wildfire Protection Measure
Annual tax would be $179 per parcel for property owners
The 2018 Camp Fire that devastated Paradise marked the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.
Since that time, fire officials have drawn comparisons between Paradise and the scenic forests that surround the Truckee area.
In order to prevent and mitigate a catastrophic wildfire, the Truckee Fire Protection District is advocating for a measure that would cost property owners $179 per year, per parcel, for work that would include: Removing dry brush, dead trees, and fire hazards; improving emergency evacuation routes and procedures; adding firebreaks where needed to help prevent or slow the spread of wildfire; reducing roadside vegetation key evacuation routes; improving early fire detection and emergency warning systems; and providing homeowners with easy and inexpensive disposal options for trimmings and green waste.
The measure must pass by two-thirds.
In 2016, the district teamed with residents to develop Truckee’s first Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Since then the district has completed some of the priority projects identified in the plan, but officials say more funds are required to address the full scope of needs.
“Since 2016, I think more work than ever has been done around the Truckee area on private and public lands. We’re actually in the middle of implementing a $3 million grant from Cal Fire and the National Forest Foundation on fuel reductions around the Truckee area,” said Truckee Fire Protection District Chief Bill Seline during last week’s Good Morning Truckee forum. “However, even at this rate, we just don’t feel like we’re at the pace and scale to really make a significant difference to reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic fire in our area, and the biggest barrier is not having a consistent revenue stream to do the work. We know what work needs to be done. It’s proven, but it’s just we’re moving at too slow of a pace based on our resources. Even with the governor’s current proposal of giving more money than ever to fuel reduction programs, it’s not anywhere close to the estimated $3 to $4 billion dollars a year Cal Fire believes is necessary to manage the fuel problem in the state of California.”
Using Emergency Fund authorization, Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 31 approved $80.74 million for around 1,400 additional firefighters to bolster fuels management and wildfire response efforts. The governor’s January 2021 budget also proposes $1 billion to support wildfire and forest management.
Truckee’s Wildfire Protection Measure would provide an estimated $3.7 million for the department, and though the proposed measure is still being discussed and drafted, plans are to include accountability measures that would prevent money from being used outside of the area, along with an independent citizens oversight committee. An exemption to the tax would also be available for low income residents and seniors aged 65 and older. The measure would expire after eight years and would need voter approval to be renewed.
The district is seeking to have the measure on an Aug. 31 special election ballot. In order to be placed on the ballot, the district’s board of directors must first approve the measure at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, April 20. Voters within the district would then receive a ballot in the mail at the beginning of August. The board meeting is open to the public via Zoom and can be found at http://www.truckeefire.org/board-meetings.
For more information on the measure, visit http://www.truckeefire.org/wildfire protectionmeasure.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union.
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A small fire that broke out just after 10 a.m. Tuesday off Highway 49 was quickly contained by firefighters, authorities said.