by BEN WEISE
When the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District (CCRCD) was formed on December 7, 1941, its mission was to work with farmers and ranchers to improve the natural resource concerns that arose from Dust Bowl-era farm management. Working on a voluntary, non-regulatory basis, the CCRCD connected these farmers with experts from the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service), the University of California Cooperative Extension, and other skilled researchers and leaders for the benefit of all our natural resources. In the coming years, the CCRCD hopes to take this same approach in a relatively new area for us, wildfire prevention.
Beginning this summer, the CCRCD and our southern neighbors, the Alameda County Resource Conservation District (ACRCD), will work together with funding from the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program through the California Natural Resources Agency and the California State Coastal Conservancy to build capacity at both RCDs and work collaboratively across county lines to increase wildfire prevention. Using grant funds, we’ll work with fire agencies, private landowners, and conservation groups to develop a Regional Priority Plan for forestry, fire protection, and forested watershed improvements that help achieve regional and statewide public safety, climate resilience, and ecosystem goals contained in the California Forest Carbon Plan.
Our goals will be achieved, as RCDs have always done, by partnering with willing landowners to address resource concerns like wildfires on their properties. Part of our program will be strengthening the Diablo Fire Safe Council’s “Partners in Wildfire Prevention” program. Through this program, the Diablo Fire Safe Council provides cost-share to improve defensible space around homes and properties of neighborhood groups. Landowners are expected to provide the remaining cost-share themselves or through “sweat equity.” Part of our grant proposal includes bringing this program to underserved communities that are just as susceptible to catastrophic wildfire, but may not have heard of or been able to apply to this program.
We look forward to starting this grant later this summer and working with our diverse stakeholders to achieve a common vision for wildfire prevention in Contra Costa County. To get involved in our efforts, please join our e-newsletter mailing list or continue to keep an eye on your email inbox.