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County allocates grant funds to fire efforts

Joshua Sebold
Staff Writer
10/20/2010


The County Board of Supervisors allocated Plumas' share of Secure Rural Schools Title III funding at its Tuesday, Oct. 5, meeting.

All the applicants received at least some funding and the board had $133,247 left over at the end.

The board anticipated receiving roughly half of this year's allocation, which was $425,260, for next year.

Plumas is in the second to last year of receiving Secure Rural Schools funding, which was authorized by the federal legislature in 2000, to help counties mostly made up of federal forest lands deal with declines in logging revenue.

The county receives funding for schools and roads, with a smaller amount split between Title II, which goes to a resource advisory committee for projects on the ground, and Title III, which the county can use to pay for various planning projects

2011 will be the final year for SRS funding, unless the federal government decides to continue the program.



Fire Safe Council

The board approved $150,000 for the Fire Safe Council and Plumas Corporation "to reduce the loss of natural and manmade resources caused by wildfire through Firewise Community programs and pre-fire activities."

The Fire Safe councils sprang up at the local level to address fire risks near communities.

Firewise Community certification, developed by a nonprofit group, has been Forest Service-recognized as an acceptable use of Title III funds.

The original request was for $300,000. Plumas Corporation Executive Director John Sheehan said the original request was high because he mistakenly thought the county wouldn't be receiving any funding the following year.

The $150,000 approved would cover two years' Firewise work in local communities.



Search and Rescue

Sheriff Greg Hagwood's request was funded fully at $150,000 to reimburse search and rescue work on federal lands.

Quincy Supervisor Lori Simpson is investigating with federal regulators how that fund should be set up. Funds will be reserved until answers were received.



Fire Marshal

The board also reserved $75,000 for a potential countywide fire warden or marshal.

Eastern Plumas Supervisor Terry Swofford asked if funding would be spent on a salary and benefits and if that was the case, who would fund it after the first year.

Indian Valley Supervisor Robert Meacher was waiting for the various county fire chiefs to agree about how to address gaps in fire coverage.

Meacher sits on the county's Emergency and Fire Services Advisory Committee with the fire chiefs. He wants to help the chiefs make a transition to whatever new funding arrangement they came up with.

In the past, Meacher has discussed the idea of an independent chief or marshal who would decide what entities needed to respond in the case of a fire that doesn't fall within a district and also determine how much each participant should be reimbursed afterwards.

Meacher stressed the board is trying to let the chiefs lead on the issue, but might eventually have to make the decision.



Supporting roles

The board approved $30,000 for the planning department to assist communities with Fire Safe mapping, one of the coordinating tools in the effort for all county communities to be Firewise-certified.

The supervisors also allocated $5,000 for local radio programming to inform Quincy and Indian Valley residents about Firewise activities.



Greenhorn

The board approved $18,300 for Greenhorn Creek Community Service District to create its own Community Wildland Fire Protection Plan and obtain Firewise certification.

Supervisor Swofford voted no, arguing that it was a duplication of efforts with the Firesafe Council doing that type of work already.

Several people at previous supervisors' meetings said Greenhorn didn't want to wait its turn for the council to address the community because of the history of fire danger there.

Representatives of the Firesafe Council at the meeting said they would still assist Greenhorn when the CSD had questions. The community is expediting the process by moving forward on its own.


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