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Addressing fire in California's foothills

The Issue

Fire has always been a natural part of California's ecosystem, but more than 50 years of fire suppression have allowed large amounts of fuel to accumulate. This has increased both the intensity of fires and their impact on the environment. To add to the dilemma, more people are moving into these forest lands, increasing the chance of a fire starting and complicating management of fires once they start.

What Has ANR Done?

UC Cooperative Extension led in the formation of Fire Safe Councils in Butte and Yuba counties. The Butte Fire Safe Council was chaired by UCCE for its first three years of operation. The Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council was formed and, under the direction of UCCE staff, obtained more than $1.5 million in grants to demonstrate to local residents what could be done to keep their homes and communities safe from fire. UCCE and other agencies worked together to develop the educational programs.

The Payoff

Making communities fire safe

The Butte Fire Safe Council, held up as the model for integrating science into a sound fire prevention program, has produced community protection and evacuation plans and constructed more than 17 miles of fuel breaks. The work of the Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council in creating 22 miles of fuel breaks and forest health demonstrations on 2,180 acres around communities has been honored with the national Smokey Bear Award by the U.S. Forest Service. These pre fire projects have been used to stop three fires. See success stories at http://www.co.yuba.ca.us/firesafe/successstories.htm.


Glenn Nader, (530) 822-7515, ganader@ucdavis.edu