In an effort to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the Yuba County foothills and preserve the critical water supply of the Yuba River, Yuba Water Agency approved a $45,000 grant to launch a Firewise USA Site Activation Program.
The Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council will manage the program, which is designed to assist rural residents in collectively improving the fire resistance of their homes, properties and community, and completing the necessary requirements to become a Certified Firewise USA Site.
“Not unlike the water conservation program we offer in the valley, this is a way Yuba Water Agency can help residents directly,” said Yuba Water Agency Vice-Chairman Randy Fletcher. “By encouraging and sponsoring these Firewise sites, we are reducing the risk for the people who live in the foothills, and protecting our precious water resources at the same time.”
A certified Firewise USA Site can range anywhere from eight to 2,500 residences, and can be a street, subdivision, homeowner association, or other geographical location, as determined by the residents. Certified sites are formed to improve the fire resistance of neighborhoods, protect watershed health and reduce the negative environmental and water quality impacts that a wildfire could have in the area.
While residents can perform much of the work necessary to become a certified Firewise Site, those efforts also require specific support from trained defensible space advisors, geographic information systems (GIS) specialists and registered professional foresters or fire scientists.
The funds from Yuba Water’s grant will be used for developing fire hazard and risk assessments, GIS mapping, program outreach and training for the defensible space advisors.
Another portion of the grant will be used to bring the National Fire Protection Association’s Take Action - Teens for Wildfire Safe Communities program to the foothills, which is designed to get teens involved in the process of helping communities be better prepared for a wildfire event.
“This funding will jumpstart a program that we desperately need in order to make significant improvements on the ground in our rural neighborhoods,” said Steve Andrews, coordinator for the Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council. “So many of our foothill residents want to put the work in to get their defensible space in order, but they often don’t know exactly how to go about it. This grant will give us the resources to help advise and encourage these folks to work individually and together as neighbors to make a difference.”
Yuba Water Agency is able to fund efforts like this to reduce fire risk because they improve water supply and reduce the negative water quality impacts that a wildfire could have on the Yuba River Watershed.
For people interested in creating a firewise site visit yubafiresafe.org or contact the Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council at 530-288-9355.
Additionally fire districts are able to purchase swift water rescue equipment.
Two local fire districts will be better equipped to respond to water-related emergencies along the Yuba River with the help of funding from Yuba Water Agency.
As part of the Bill Shaw Rescue Equipment and Training Grant Program, Yuba Water today approved two grants, worth up to $10,000 each, for Linda Fire Protection District and Olivehurst Fire Department, to help them purchase new swift-water rescue equipment. Much of the districts’ current rescue equipment is outdated and in need of replacement.
“These fire departments provide critical rescue and emergency services for Yuba County residents and people recreating along the Yuba River,” said Yuba Water Agency Board Director Andy Vasquez. “Now they will be even better equipped to respond to dangerous, swift-water situations.”
Linda Fire Protection District will purchase technical rescue equipment, ropes and associated hardware.
The Olivehurst Fire Department will use the grant to replace outdated ropes and purchase additional swift water rescue gear.
Like all Bill Shaw grants, the agency is able to make these funds available because the first-responders may be called upon to provide emergency support to the agency’s facilities and staff, or to people recreating at its lakes or on the Yuba River.
Yuba Water Agency’s Bill Shaw Rescue Equipment and Training Grant Program, which was created in 2018, is designed for first-responder agencies in Yuba County and will cover the one-time costs of up to $10,000 per applicant annually, associated with the purchase of rescue equipment and specialized personnel training. Since its inception, the program has supported 14 agencies with $158,500 in grants.