Collaborative effort for fire plan
It had all the appearance of business as usual at the Board of Supervisors meeting a few weeks ago, but in fact something extraordinary was about to happen. Something that was almost unheard of in Nevada County, where polarization and divisiveness are the name of the game when it comes to Land Use Policy. It was such a monumental occurrence, yet it passed by unnoticed, with no fanfare and no public recognition. The Union made no mention of it in its article the next day simply stating:
“Fire-prone Nevada County now has its first fire plan. After 11 months of community meetings and workshops, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved the plan Tuesday with just a few minor modifications and overwhelming support from more than 70 residents”.
For me, it was a great personal victory. But it happened quietly, like the subtle change in the seasons; before you know it, spring gives way to summer and then summer to fall. As an early morning runner, you can sense the impending change in the seasons. The week of the Nevada County Fair marks a distinct turn in the season. It seems overnight you can feel summer changing to fall, and so it was this day a subtle change from polarization to collaborative effort in Nevada County.
The extraordinary occurrence was not that Nevada County now has its first Fire Safe Plan but the fact that the community had come together, put aside its differences and worked hard to find common ground to develop a Fire Safe Plan. A Fire Safe Plan that was critically needed to protect our property, homes and the environment in our fire prone forests
A great deal of credit has to be given to Tony Clarabut, Nevada County fire marshall, who developed the collaborative approach, which in the end reflected the views of a broad cross-section of stakeholders from government agencies to community groups and local residents. His willingness to go the extra mile is unique and we believe one of the reasons this plan will eventually succeed.
A little about the Nevada County Fire Plan:
• A plan based on healthier watersheds, enhanced community protection and diminished risk and consequences of severe wild land fires.
• A plan based on the premise of presenting reasonable and achievable recommendations that would directly and positively impact our ability to live in Nevada County with a reduced risk from wild land fire.
• The plan focuses on reducing the impacts of damaging wild land fires through 42 specific recommendations. Those dealing with fuels management and the continuation of fuels reduction assistance programs were determined to be of the highest priority.
• Also recommended for adoption with the Fire Plan is a five-year implementation timeline for education, assistance and compliance programs for fuels management ordinances.
• The first year there will be public education, assistance programs and enforcement of defensible space.
• The second year, in addition to the above, there will be point-of-sale disclosure on developed and undeveloped parcels and enforcement of defensible space at building permit issuance.
• Enforcement is used as the method of last resort and there is a process of phased enforcement over a number of years.
We challenge everyone to support the Fire Safe Plan. It will require all of us to do our part, will cost additional money and place additional requirements on property owners, but in the end will make Nevada County a more fire safe place live.
Barbara Bashall is executive director of the Nevada County Contractors’ Association.
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