Our View: Working together on fire
We’re always talking about fire.
It wasn’t always this way. Not long ago the first rains of autumn would fall, and a sense of security would drift across Nevada County. We’d made it through another fire season. The rain and snow would come, and we’d barely consider fire until we were deep into spring, maybe later.
Those days are gone, burned away by a never ending fire season that’s been settled here for years. They aren’t coming back, and we’d be foolish to act like they were.
That leaves only one option for us: change.
The climate has changed, the fire season has changed, and we need to change along with it. We can keep arguing about why the change occurred, as long as we change our behaviors to adapt and do something about it.
Our government can only do so much, as the lack of fire fuel treatment to Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land attests. There’s plenty of responsibility each of us bears, as well. And sometimes, the government’s actions can combine with our own for some real success stories.
The Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone is a great example of government and property owners working together to achieve a common goal. Officials identified this area as a good place for a fire break, money was found for the project, and homeowners then were convinced to get on board.
There will always be some people who decline participation in projects like these. What’s important is that we get a majority of people educated about the benefits, get them involved in the process, and then keep them coming back when it’s time for more work.
The county also announced this week it was conducting vegetation management on county road right-of-ways. The county will trim branches, mow the grass and remove fire fuels within about 10 feet from the road. Property owners need to do their part as well, performing the same work on their own land.
And, if you clear your own yards or have someone who does it for you, there’s a place you can dispose of that green waste. A free disposal event is set for May 21-24 and June 11-14, both at 12625 Brunswick Road.
These programs, and the work of county and individuals, won’t keep fire away like some magical talisman, but it will make a significant impact if — or we should say when — fire comes here.
The grass, now lush and green, will be dry and brown in two months. The whisper of rain we still get will be a hazy dream in just a few weeks.
We need to start work now, and keep at it.
Not everyone can hustle through their yard in the heat, cutting limbs and mowing grass. However, everyone can contact the Fire Safe Council at 530-272-1122, and have a defensible space advisory visit for an analysis of your property. Those who live in Firewise communities, more of which get certified each year, might have an inspector in the neighborhood who can examine your property.
These avenues can inform about what needs to be done. The Fire Safe Council also has what it terms low cost defensible space clearing services. Additionally, seniors with low income or those with medical disabilities might qualify for help with clearing their defensible space.
The county also has two larger grants in the hopper with the Federal Emergency Management Agency that, if successful, would bring more funding to Nevada County that could help homeowners who qualify for them.
All of these, combined with our collective will to prepare for wildfire, will help make this county strong and resilient against a threat we know is coming.
We just have to keep talking, and doing something, about it.
The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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