CAMERON PARK (CBS13) — Cameron Park has a weed problem. Not the kind of weed people smoke, the kind they want to prevent from smoking.
“It’s a concern,” says resident Shellie Emely. “It’s a concern for everybody, because of the fire hazard for us.”
September and October are the prime months for wildfires in El Dorado County. Cal Fire and local officials can’t control the weather conditions, but they can curb fire danger by limiting the fuel that feeds these fires.
But in Cameron Park, near the western tip of the county, high grass is fueling a controversy. A drive around Cameron Park shows plenty of overgrown grass and weeds on vacant lots, along the right of ways on Green Valley Road and Cameron Park Drive.
Cal Fire points to a spot on Cameron Park Drive that fronts the mobile home park where Shannon Emely has lived for four years.
“It’s constant. I have had going up and down Cameron Park Drive, we have had the high grass, and nothing ever gets done,” she said. “I think there was talk that the county was called about it, but they said they didn’t have enough equipment.”
El Dorado County’s Carla Hass says the county has agreed to twice yearly herbicide spraying to kill those grasses closest to the road, has maintained an eight-foot buffer, and then sprayed a third time. But evidently, that has not cleared setbacks like one running along Green Valley Road—the kind that creates nightmares for Cal Fire.
“This tall grass can carry the fire very quickly, and it’s very close to these homes. Fuel models this year expected to see a three-foot stretch of grass with just a light five-mile-an-hour wind grow to 20-foot flame lengths,” said Cal Fire’s Brice Bennett.
But across the street, where Green Valley Way fronts an expensive subdivision, the grass is in check, thanks to the homeowners association that took the job into its own hands.
Rich Ramirez, interim president of the Cameron Park Community District, has been charged by his board with getting more help from the county. He was traveling and not available for comment on Thursday.
As for land owners who refuse to maintain their parcels, they’re on notice and can face heavy fines or a lien on their property.