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Public Safety

Napa Firewise secures $6 million state grant for wildfire prevention

Circle Oaks

Workers earlier this year created a shaded fuel break around the rural Circle Oaks community. The state recently awarded almost $6 million for similar projects to prevent wildfires.

A state grant of almost $6 million will help reduce wildfire-fueling vegetation across about 1,800 acres all over Napa County, from Atlas Peak to Angwin to near the city of Napa.

The Napa Communities Firewise Foundation secured the $5.85 million grant from Cal Fire. Twenty fuel reduction projects will be done in the footprints of 2017's Atlas Fire, Nuns Fire, and Tubbs Fire and 2020's Hennessey/Lightning Complex Fire and Glass Fire.

“This is an important step towards preparing Napa County communities for future fires,” said Christopher Thompson, president of the volunteer Napa Firewise board of directors.

More than far-flung rural areas are to benefit. A Napa Firewise press release says that some projects will help protect such places as the Browns Valley area and northwest area of the city of Napa.

Napa Firewise and Napa County in April unveiled a $42 million, five-year plan to reduce fuels. Napa County agreed to pay $6.4 million for the first year.

The new $5.85 million state grant will help continue the effort. A Firewise press release mentioned these projects:

  • Six fuel reduction projects covering 660 acres in the Atlas/Hennessey/ Lightning Complex fire footprints. That includes 22 miles along Atlas Peak, Pritchard Hill, Monticello and Soda Canyon roads and at Silverado.
  • Two fuel reduction projects covering 220 acres in the Glass Fire/Angwin area. The projects will at key routes at Linda Falls and Rancho Lajota Drive along southern Angwin.
  • Eight fuel reduction projects covering 615 acres in the Nuns Fire/Mount Veeder area. That includes 11.5 miles along Trinity, Dry Creek and Redwood roads, the Redwood Road/Partrick Road connector and the Timberhill and Veterans Home of California at Yountville areas. Also, maintenance will be done at Wall and Lokoya roads and the Old Ridge Road shaded fuel break.
  • Four fuel reduction projects covering 350 acres in the Tubbs Fire/Glass Fire footprints. That includes more than 7 miles along Franz Valley School, Kortum Canyon, Sharp and Old Lawley Toll roads.

In addition, the grant will help with a defensible space cost-share program to be tested in the Calistoga and St. Helena areas. At least 300 residents will receive financial support to improve their defensible spaces.

Money will also help buy a dozer/masticator to be managed by Pacific Union College and Cal Fire to reduce fuels.

The Cal Fire grant program is competitive. The 2020-21 cycle had 307 applicants asking for a total of more than $349 million. The agency awarded 47 grants totaling $14.8 million.

Wildfires in Napa County since 2017 have burned an area totaling roughly about half of the county. They have destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, including some in the heart of world-famous wine country.

Napa County is stepping up its fuel break program to help fight wildfires and it started with Circle Oaks.

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You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or beberling@napanews.com.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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