The full Woodpecker Ravine project is a multifaceted $43 million project that proposes geographically targeted fuel modification and home hardening in Woodpecker Ravine, coupled with a robust community education and engagement campaign. Nevada County will incorporate art and science to generate conversation and action around what it means to live in a forested landscape and how to create a more resilient, fire-adapted community in this environment.
The project will provide home-hardening to nearly 1,300 residences and defensible space assistance treating approximately 2,102 acres. Homeowners within the project footprint will have access to a cost-share program which will provide 70% cash-match incentives to residents up to $20,000 for home-hardening and $6,000 for defensible space implementation.
Additionally, selective thinning will take place on a total of 1,136 acres of land along critical evacuation routes and strategic ridges. This treatment has been scoped as consisting of 150 feet of treatment on either side of primary evacuation routes, 75 feet of treatment on either side of secondary evacuation routes, and 150 feet of treatment along strategic ridges. Treatment along strategic ridges will serve to tie road system arteries into a comprehensive shaded fuel break. 410 strategic acres will be treated in Phase I and 726 acres will be treated in Phase II.
The Woodpecker Ravine Wildfire Mitigation Project is located within high and very high fire severity zones just southeast of Grass Valley in Nevada County. The area is flanked by State Highway 49 to the east and State Highway 174 to the north. Within the project Treatment Influence Zone are nearly 400 homes valued at approximately $95M and nearly 2,200 homes are in the 1-mile Project Influence Zone valued at over $500M. The two major evacuation routes in the Woodpecker Ravine are Lower Colfax Road and Rattlesnake Road; both lead to Highway 174, or south to other major roads such as Mt. Olive and Dog Bar Roads.
The area’s terrain and land slopes affect its susceptibility to wildfire spread. The volume of untreated vegetation within the Woodpecker Ravine and its steep drainage make it a prime location for fuels treatment.
Within 2 miles of the project are many critical community lifelines:
- 8 fire stations
- 14 schools
- 2 Pacific Gas & Electric substations and 6 miles of powerline
- 3 short-term rehabilitation and skilled-nursing facilities
- 1 extended-stay convalescent hospital
- The County’s primary hospital; the only other hospital is an hour’s drive away over a 7,000-foot mountain pass
This project will help protect the following communities: Union Hill, Cedar Ridge, Peardale, and Highland Park, Alta Sierra, Alta Hill, La Barr Meadows, the City of Grass Valley, Spring Hill, The Oaks, Coleman, Bear River Pines, and Chicago Park.
Project Funders & Partners
The County applied to two funders for this project, CAL FIRE and FEMA, and will leverage these two sources of funding together. FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant requires a 25% match., therefore, the County will utilize CAL FIRE grant funding to serve as local match. The County of Nevada partnered with the CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit when developing the federal grant application to identify a treatment priority of the unit that aligned with the goals and objectives of the BRIC grant.
Project partners include the South Yuba River Citizens League and Sierra Streams Institute. Both of these partners will be involved in the community engagement and education portions of this grant. More information to follow.
Requested Grant Funds:
- FEMA: $31,000,000 (Awarded, pending environmental and cultural review)
- CAL FIRE Phase I: $2,178,004 (Awarded)
- CAL FIRE Phase II: $3,914,536 (Awarded)
- Remaining Required Local Match: $5,907,464