Firewise Communities Microgrant Program

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Nevada County, Calif., CA

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About the Program

Category: Risk and Emergency Management (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

In rural, forested Nevada County, 92% of the nearly 100,000 residents live in high to very high fire hazard severity zones. Fire prevention experts, local government leaders, and the public at large agree that one of the most significant threats to human life is the need to safely evacuate during a wildfire. The major barrier to safe evacuations stems from the abundance of flammable vegetation on private lands and along private roadways. Private properties have historically been a missing piece to this wildfire preparation and evacuation puzzle. The “Firewise Communities Microgrant Program” was designed to address reducing the fuel load to improve evacuation safety. Funded with a $100,000 grant from a local community foundation, the County established the Firewise Communities Microgrant Program, which made 26 grants of $3,600 each to recognized Firewise Communities. Eligible projects to reduce wildfire risk included increasing defensible space around homes, removing hazardous vegetation from private lands, and clearing evacuation routes on private roadways. This program is the first of its kind for Firewise Communities. Nevada County has the most recognized Firewise Communities for any county in the nation. This program was able to leverage these communities’ volunteerism for maximum impact. This ultimately created a more wildfire resilient landscape that will save lives and property.

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