The Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council is a community-based group consisting of concerned citizens and local, state and federal fire professionals working together with County Government, law enforcement, professional foresters, local timber farming companies and resource conservation groups to contribute to the following:
1. Protect lives and property from devastating wildfire
2. Maintain forest health
3. Prevention of wildfire where possible
4. Mitigate the detrimental effects of wildfire on wildlands and watersheds
5. Facilitate cooperative efforts between law enforcement and fire professionals to identify routing resources for development of evacuation plans
6. Research innovative applications for forest products
7. Develop and provide information for the public to help them prepare for and protect their lives, homes and property from wildfire
In support of their goals the Council has secured over two million dollars in grants to conduct fuel reduction projects in Yuba County. Key elements of the council’s programs include the following:
• Public education designed to identify risks and ways to minimize those risks;
• Infrastructure development that stresses fire-resistant building materials and best practices in building a fire safe zone around homes and buildings;
• Landscape and vegetation management tips in selecting fire-resistant plants and vegetation clearing methods
• Fuel reduction projects to reduce the risk of propagating fire that can destroy communities
In 2014, the Council developed the Yuba Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which will help guide the Council in its future project planning.
Prepare for Fire
A Perspective on Wildland Fires
Wildland fire is an essential, natural process. Fire has helped shape our wildlands for thousands of years and is important for the survival of many plants and animals. Fire reduces accumulation of vegetation that can inhibit plant growth, and some plants and animals depend on fire for survival. Society’s influence has altered the historic fire cycle, leading to a dangerous and difficult buildup of vegetation in our wildlands. Social and cultural approaches to wildland fire over the past century have focused on preventing and suppressing ALL wildland fire. As a result, wildland fires today have become much more difficult to manage and are threatening residential areas that border wildland areas. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that more than 30,000 homes have been lost to wildfire since the 1970s. Federal taxpayers have paid out an estimated $40 billion in suppression costs, while the insurance industry has paid claims in excess of $10 billion. In 2003, the Cedar fire in San Diego County recorded over 2,000 homes destroyed, nearly 300,000 acres burned and 16 lives lost.
In Yuba County we have had two large fires (Williams & Pendola) that destroyed over 100 homes.
The Urgency of Fire Safe in Yuba County
As in the rest of California and most of the US, fire suppression and control have been a top priority in Yuba County for many years. This extended period of fire suppression along with citizen complacency has resulted in a considerable buildup of vegetation in the high-risk areas that are the eastern foothill communities of the county. In addition, population growth has caused communities to merge with higher-risk wildlands. Neighborhoods like Browns Valley, Loma Rica, Smartville, Brownsville, Dobbins, Oregon House, and Camptonville are prime examples of the migration outward of our urban centers into what we call wildland urban interface areas or WUI. This outward growth produces more ignition points for fire to start and adds to the complexity of addressing a wildfire. Given our fire history in California and in Yuba County, the eventuality of a wildland fire happening in our communities is great. It’s not if, it’s when. Fortunately for us, the Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council programs can give us the opportunity to prepare for the inevitable. The time to act is now.