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For Immediate Release
Vegetation management grant program update shows progress, promise of more to come
Santa Rosa,CA | October 20, 2021
The Board of Supervisors received an update today from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) on 19 vegetation management programs that are underway or completed as part of the county’s efforts to minimize wildfire risks.
These 19 vegetation management projects, costing $3.6 million and supported through PG&E settlement funds, were selected in May by a multi-agency selection committee for their potential to address immediate fire risk, environmental compliance and other factors.
On July 13, the Board of Supervisors, which serves as the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space), approved a second phase of grant funding totaling $3 million, to include seven conditionally approved highly ranked project applicants and to solicit another round of grant applications by January 2022.
“It’s so gratifying to see these projects already making such headway in creating more resilient landscapes in Sonoma County,” Chair of the Board of Supervisors Lynda Hopkins said. “As a board, we are committed to adapting to climate change, supporting forest health and community hardening efforts, and the vegetation management grant program is a primary way we can immediately begin to achieve those goals.”
Since the launch of the first round of grant funding, Ag + Open Space has hired a full-time Vegetation Management Coordinator to oversee the efforts of the initial grant projects, ensuring that the projects are advancing and achieving the intended outcomes of the program. Some work has already been completed, such as the Cavedale Road-Trinity Road corridor project, which cut back 10.3 miles of roadside vegetation that had previously burned in the Nuns Fire in 2017. Other projects, such as a shaded fuel break above Jenner and Cazadero, vegetation management along Fort Ross Road, and the Sonoma Valley Fire Department’s chipper program, are still waiting for chippers, masticators and other vegetation management equipment that is currently in high demand and difficult to obtain.
Ag + Open Space staff are looking for grant opportunities from state and federal sources, including $1.514 billion from the state to support forest health and fire prevention and resiliency, which could be used as matching funds for the PG&E funds to stretch the program further. Future collaborative efforts between the Vegetation Management Program and Transportation and Public Works are also being pursued, with staff identifying key areas where vegetation removal along critical roads can reduce fire risk and improve public safety.