September 20, 2018
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Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works receives CAL FIRE Prevention Grant

September 7, 2018

The grant will help support Roadway Safety, Fire Fuels Reduction and Community Chipper Activities

Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works (TPW) has been awarded a grant in the amount of $1,082,969 by CAL FIRE, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Fire Prevention Grants Program.  This award was provided to support TPW for their proposed Roadway Safety, Fuels Reduction, Community Chipper and Engagement Project.  The proposal includes support for the project from Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services and Fire Safe Sonoma, Inc.

 “We applaud CAL FIRE for supporting Sonoma County with this funding, which will allow us to make our roads safer for the next time wildfire or other hazards strike.  Instead of mere incremental improvement, this funding will support a leap forward in reducing fuel loads and risks by removing hazardous trees and vegetation,” stated Chair of the Board of Supervisors, James Gore. “Residents must be able to evacuate safely and smoothly and firefighters must be able to get in quickly to do their jobs. Last October’s wildfires show how important this is for public safety.”

 With these funds Sonoma County will assess fire fuel risks and tree mortality within the public right of way on 83 miles of roads in northwestern Sonoma County, and subsequently treat 30 miles of the highest priority areas by removing hazardous trees and vegetation within the public right of way.  The target area includes the Sonoma County communities of Guerneville, Rio Nido, Monte Rio, Cazadero, and Timber Cove.  The process will include identification of hazardous vegetation and trees by an arborist, and removal of those hazards within the public right of way.  This will result in safer access and egress for firefighters and the public in the event of a wildfire. 

 “This new funding source and the much-needed impact it will have on fire prevention and roadway protection for our west county communities will address an urgent need in our rural communities. The grant will provide the county with the critical additional resources needed to reduce vegetation fuel loads and will enhance public safety throughout the Fifth District,” shared Lynda Hopkins, Fifth District Supervisor.

 In addition to reduction of risk of wildfire spread along roadways, the County of Sonoma is providing a chipper and tow vehicle to implement increased community chipper activities throughout the project areas. Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services will staff the chipper, which will be used for fire fuels treatment along public right of ways and also for curbside chipping services.  Fire Safe Sonoma will lead education and outreach efforts to encourage property owners in the targeted area to clear hazardous vegetation from their properties through the chipper program.  Outreach within the community will focus on defensible space, structural hardening, wildfire preparation, evacuation planning and the development of CAL FIRE fire safe councils.  

 The project is anticipated to occur over a period of three and one-half years, beginning October 2018 with the total cost of the project at $1,237,541 including Sonoma County’s match of $154,572.  

 For more information on this project, please contact Daniel Virkstis, Public Affairs Program Manager at:Daniel.Virkstis@sonoma-county.org or (707) 565-2992.