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Soper Company Awarded a CALFIRE Grant

Soper Company Shakespeare Mastication Project
Yuba County Watershed Protection & Fire Safe Council

Yuba County Watershed Protection & Fire Safe Council

March 2015, Ryan McKillop, Inventory Forester-

On March 16, 2015, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) awarded over $9.5 million in grants throughout the state for a variety of projects aimed at reducing the elevated threat of wildfires due to the ongoing drought. The dollars for this grant program come from the State Responsibility Area (SRA) fees, which the Department began collecting two years ago. A total of 83 grant applicants will receive funding for projects that contribute to fire prevention efforts around at-risk homes and communities. The project will reinforce CAL FIRE’s ongoing efforts to address the risk and potential impacts of large, damaging wildfires.

“The high number of grant applications we received underscores just how vested the citizens of California are in preparing for our state’s inevitable wildfires,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and state forester. “We are looking forward to seeing the ‘on the ground’ results these projects will yield.”

The Fire Prevention Fund Grants, created in the 2014-15 budget, are aimed at supplementing CAL FIRE’s ongoing activities by funding local entities’ efforts to help counteract the effects of the drought. Grant criteria weighted projects that address fire risk and potential impact of wildfire to habitable structures in the State Responsibility Area, as well as community support and project feasibility.

Here in Yuba County, the Yuba County Watershed Protection & Fire Safe Council submitted grant project applications for five projects. Of those projects, four were ultimately chosen for funding, including $100,000 for the Yuba County Residential Chipping Program, $142,000 for the Special Needs Defensible Space Assistance Program, $122,000 for the Soper Company Shakespeare Mastication Project, and $30,000 for the Yuba County Service Area 2 Shaded Fuel Breaks Project.

This is quite an accomplishment for our local Fire Safe Council, and a direct benefit of the Council’s efforts last year in finalizing Yuba County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), which identifies specific wildfire-related risks, lays out potential projects to address those risks, and serves as a vehicle for future grant funding. Counties having an approved CWPP in place are more likely to receive grant funding than those that do not have a Plan. The Fire Safe Council is made up by a collaboration of representatives from County Staff, public agencies such as CALFIRE and the Forest Service, conservancy groups, local volunteer fire departments and others.

Soper Company Shakespeare Mastication Project

Soper Company Shakespeare Mastication Project

The Mastication Project will occur on what we call the “Shakespeare”, a 137 acre parcel we bought from the Westphal’s some years ago. The fuels treatment will be accomplished with our own company’s equipment and operators, and is scheduled for the fall of this year. Fuel treatment will consist of small tree thinning and mastication which will increase crown spacing, modify the fuel ladder, and reduce the intensity and rate of spread in the event of a wildfire burning towards Forbestown.

Follow-up brush control will likely follow at some point in the future in order to maximize the length of effectiveness of the treatment. The project not only fits well with Soper’s management goals, but it also helps mitigate the potential for catastrophic effects of a severe fire, both for residents, public facilities and escape routes. All-in-all, this is a win for us and the community of Forbestown, and is a great example of how SRA fees can be put to good use in at-risk communities.

 

 

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