Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council?
The Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council fire awareness program is designed to educate the residents of Yuba County on the dangers wildland fires pose to them and their communities. The program also provides specific steps each person can take to protect themselves, their family and their neighbors should a wildfire occur.
2. Why are Councils like ours important?
The National Fire Protection Association estimates and the devastation caused by the Williams and Pendola Fires locally, and the Cedar Fire in San Diego County (all cited HERE) have demonstrated the necessity, and provided the motivation, to take steps to mitigate and prevent destructive, uncontrolled wildfire. Yuba County is especially vulnerable to fire given its vast wildland areas, large amounts of fire-prone vegetation and windswept terrain. It’s just a matter of time before Yuba County has another major wildfire.
3. How does the chipping program work?
As part of creating a 100 foot defensible fire zone around homes and outbuildings, residents in selected areas are encouraged to take advantage of a free chipping program to dispose of unwanted brush. The program will require that the brush be brought to the nearest road location, where it will be chipped and returned to the resident for use as compost or mulch. (See Residential Chipping page for more information) If you are elderly (over the age of 65), disabled, or low income, and need assistance in clearing your defensible space, you may be elegable for free clearance work. (See Defensible Space Assistance page for more information)
4. What is defensible space?
Defensible space, sometimes known as survivable space, is an area at least 100 feet in diameter around your home and other structures where combustible fuels (grass, brush, low-hanging limbs, woodpiles, etc.) have been significantly removed or reduced. This includes the home ignition zone (10 feet) where all flammable vegetation and materials have been removed, and the defensible space zone (10 to 100 feet) where fire has will have a difficult time spreading and firefighters can safely defend structures.
5. Does defensible space mean everything must go?
No, defensible space is not “clear-cutting” or the removal of all vegetation. Creating defensible space involves removal of obvious hazards and the altering or staggering of vegetation to slow the progress of a fire. This could be as simple as replanting with fire-resistant plants, moving a woodpile or cutting back a stand of dry brush.
6. What does WUI stand for?
WUI is an acronym for Wildland Urban Interface. This is an area where the rural wildland environment merges with residential development and urban living. Typical examples example in Yuba County are the communities of Brownsville and Camptonville. These communities have homes and businesses located in close proximity to each other, yet they also enjoy the natural beauty of grasslands and forest-like settings which surround them.
7. What can I do if a wildfire strikes my area?
a). Have an evacuation plan for you and your family, including your pets.
b). Follow the instructions from the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department and your local fire officials.
8. Is the 100 foot defensible space mandatory?
Starting in 2005, the 100 foot clearance became a requirement under state law. Additionally, insurance companies can require additional clearance and refuse to insure if you do not comply. The law does not require you to go beyond your property line to achieve the 100 foot clearance, but your insurance company can require for more clearance as a requirement to obtain an insurance policy. If you are in need of assistance to complete your 100 foot defensible space, please check out SNAP to see if you qualify for free clearance work. The Council is also offering FREE CHIPPING.
9. Will the Council’s programs result in reduced insurance costs?
Since the 1970s, the insurance industry has paid out over $10 billion in wildfire claims. Thus, they are interested in any programs that reduce wildfire-related losses. Reduced insurance costs may result, but a more likely consequence of the programs will be the difference between being insurable or uninsurable.
10. Who are the stakeholders in this program?
Stakeholders are made up of the community and include:
Residents and Homeowners
Local Fire Districts
– Camptonville Community Service District
– Dobbins Oregon House Fire Protection District
– Foothills Fire Protection District
– Loma Rica/Browns Valley Community Service District
– Smartsville Fire Protection District
Private Timberland Owners/Tree Farms (The CHY Company and Soper-Wheeler Company)
Yuba County Agriculture Commissioner
California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
Yuba County Office of Emergency Services
Yuba County Public Works
USDA Forest Service (Both Tahoe and Plumas National Forest)
Bureau of Land Management
Camptonville Community Partnership
University of Calif. Cooperative Extension
Yuba County Planning Dept.
11. Who was responsible for initiating and currently continuing the Fire Safe Council?
The Council was initiated through the efforts of former County Supervisor Hal Stocker. The program has continued through the combined efforts of County Staff, UC Farm Advisor’s office, the area federal, state, and local fire departments, local timber farming companies, professional foresters and the citizens and environmental groups that are participants. Funding has been by grants obtained through Council participants’ efforts.
12. When does the Fire Safe Council meet?
The Council meets bi-monthly (unless additional meetings are needed) at the Alcouffe Community Center in Dobbins-Oregon House at 9185 Marysville Road. Public participation in these meetings is encouraged. Additional information and meeting times, dates and locations can be found by calling Martha Burke at 530-913-6450 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Do I live in a high-risk area? How can I tell?
If you live in a forested area, or an area with tall grasses and/or dense brush growth, you are in a high risk area. This is especially true during periods of low humidity and high winds that we encounter from late summer through autumn (until the rains set in).
14. When is wildfire season?
While fires can occur at any time, especially when the hot dry winds from the north or northeast occur, fire season usually begins sometime in late May to mid June, and extends until enough rain falls to significantly reduce the fire danger. Fire season usually ends from late October to early November.
15. How can I make my home a more fire-resistant building?
Fire-resistant construction can be found on the Fire-Resistant Home page.
16. What are the most at-risk Communities for wildland fire in Yuba County?
Most foothill and mountain communities are especially vulnerable to wildland fire because of the type and abundance of fire fuels, terrain characteristics, and water availability. Community projects are being conducted to reduce the risk of wildfire.