By Anna Giles

PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) – Fire officials are reminding people that it’s not a matter of if, but when the next big wildfire will ignite.

It’s been quiet this season so far, but the state has implemented new prevention efforts in the meantime.

Cal Fire said 35 large-scale brush clearing projects started this year. They describe this as a brand new, very proactive effort. One of those projects is happening in the North Fork American River region, where crews expect to clear 800 acres.

“This should be a call to action for every citizen in California that it’s not if, it’s when you’re going to be affected by a wildfire,” said Cal Fire Deputy Director Mike Mohler.

Mohler said these brush clearing projects are massive efforts that involve extensive cooperation with state agencies and private property owners.

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“It’s a landscape project, meaning boots on the ground, they are physically going out and it doesn’t mean they are just going out and mowing down all the brush. They are working with the native plant society, archaeological sites,” Mohler said

Cal Fire said in the North Fork American River region near Colfax, there are nearly 80,000 people who could be affected in the event of a wildfire. These same people benefit from the brush clearing.

“These are very strategic locations that can actually slow down the head of the fire before it hits these communities, unfortunately, like we saw with the Camp Fire,” Mohler said.

Governor Newsom said during a press conference this week he expects the brush clearing projects to be finished by December. But one of the biggest obstacles in the process has been bureaucracy.

“We have one project on Highway 17 where there’s 719 permits that we need before we can start the project,” he said.

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Mohler said some of the nearly 400 new firefighters recently hired by the state will be working on these brush clearing efforts.

“There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of that dependent on what we see as far as weather conditions because part of these projects is actually putting fire on the ground on our terms,” he said.


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