By Anna Giles

NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) — Cal Fire’s latest effort to prevent wildfires involves creating defense zones designed to protect entire cities.

The agency is focused on creating defensible space and now has the state funding to do these projects in mass.

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Private landowners have been key to the success of an ongoing project near Grass Valley. Greg Webster’s property sits right in the middle of more than 1,000 acres Cal Fire wants to clear of brush and trees that could fuel a wildfire. Webster is more than happy to oblige.

“I was kind of their guinea pig project; the first private land that they worked on,” he said.

More than 150 other landowners got the same deal. Earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom approved 35 brush clearing efforts statewide, including roughly 1,200 acres just outside of Grass Valley. So far, fire crews have been able to clear about 239 acres.

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“What we’re doing is protecting the city of Grass Valley,” said Cal Fire North Division Operations Chief Jim Mathias.

Mathias said fire crews and botanists work together to reduce fire fuel without destroying habitats.

“It’s basically a north/south route that we’re trying to remove some of the vegetation and we’re trying to have a shaded fuel break which is not moonscaping, it’s just reducing the fuel,” Mathias said.

Greg Webster’s lawn was once the only clear spot on his property. Now his property would be home base for crews fighting a fire in this area.

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“This is the first step of what I have a vision to create all the way across Nevada County,” Mathias said.