Santa Rosa, CA – June 2, 2021 – The Board of Supervisors has approved $3,722,160 in grant funding for 20 vegetation management projects throughout Sonoma County to help reduce fire risk in the 2021 and 2022 wildfire seasons. In addition, another seven projects in the Russian River area have been conditionally approved for future funding pending the completion of outstanding project design and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) work. The funds are derived from the PG&E settlement awarded to the County as a result of the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires lawsuit. In 2020, the Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $25 million of the $149 million settlement toward vegetation management activities.
“We are pleased to be able to support our local fire districts, homeowners’ associations, non-profit partners, and community groups in making our county safer and more resilient in the face of what is anticipated to be a severe wildfire season,” said Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Lynda Hopkins. “Through this grant program we are able to help landowners and communities clear critical access roads, create defensible space around structures, form much-needed shaded fuel breaks, and educate the community on wildfire safety and risk reduction. In addition, we are looking forward to working closely with river communities on resolving project design and CEQA issues so that these projects can also be approved for funding this summer.
The Board of Supervisors originally set aside $2-4 million from the PG&E settlement funds to complete “shovel- ready” projects that would result in the greatest fire-risk reduction going into the 2021 and 2022 wildfire seasons.
County staff received 89 applications totaling more than $16 million in requested funds. After careful review of the applications by a selection committee made up of representatives from the County Administrator’s Office, the County’s natural resource agencies and CalFire (Ag + Open Space, Regional Parks, Permit Sonoma, Sonoma Water, and UC Cooperative Extension), the Board agreed to accept 20 projects totaling over $3.7 million into the program. The grant funds do not require match funding from the applicants and will be disbursed upon execution of a grant agreement with the County so that projects can get underway as soon as possible. In addition, County staff will work to resolve outstanding project design and CEQA issues for the seven Russian River area projects to allow them to return to the Board for funding this summer.
“Given that this is the first grant program of this nature administered by the County, we were not sure how many applications we would receive,” said Caryl Hart, former interim General Manager of Ag + Open Space and county lead for the vegetation management program. “The sheer amount and quality of the applications we received is a clear indicator of the need and desire of the community to reduce fire risk across the county; and we look forward to working with those applicants that were not awarded funds during this cycle to address vegetation management concerns through other funding and technical assistance channels, and to encourage them to apply for the next round of County funding.”
See below for a list of all the approved projects and funding amounts (in alphabetical order):