Butte County Defensible Space and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program (CEQA24-0001)

Summary

SCH Number
2024010613
Public Agency
Butte County
Document Title
Butte County Defensible Space and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program (CEQA24-0001)
Document Type
NOE - Notice of Exemption
Received
Posted
1/23/2024
Document Description
The scope of the program is to reduce future fires' rate of spread, intensity, and hazard to homes and infrastructure. The program will accomplish this by creating defensible space and fuels reduction. The program will be available to participants across the wildland-urban-interface (WUI) area, as long as their homes are within 500' of a main evacuation route. This ensures that work done under the grant will achieve the dual purpose of creating defensible space for homeowners while also improving evacuation route safety during wildfire events. Work can and will be done in any of the 25 Butte County WUI communities, with the exception of the Town of Paradise (which has received its own Hazard Mitigation grant funding) because all Butte County WUI communities are equally at risk and in need of mitigation. Homesites are eligible for the program if they are within the "Moderate to high-risk zone" (as defined by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) of the WUI area and also within 500' of a main evacuation route. After site identification is complete, defensible space inspections will be offered to qualifying homesites. Specific defensible space clearance treatments, such as hand-cut-and-chip or lop-and scatter, will be recommended on a case-by-case basis, and landowners will have the option to participate in the Butte County Fire Safe Council (BCFSC) defensible space clearance program or to do the work themselves. Landowners will also have the option to participate in the BCFSC fuels reduction program (fire hazard/large tree removal) if their properties have fire hazard trees 1 O" in diameter and larger. All these treatment methods are intended to eliminate vertical and horizontal continuity of fuels so that the rate and magnitude of wildfire spread will be less severe during future events. The defensible space and fuels reduction programs include the removal, utilization, and/or disposal of timber and vegetative waste from fire-damaged areas; removal is important because woody debris and downed trees pose a threat to people, infrastructure, and private property by contributing to overall fuel loads. Woody debris that is not chipped on-site will be transported to either a biomass-to-energy facility or a local staging area for disposal. Phase 1 includes assembling the team, conducting community outreach, identifying qualifying properties, obtaining Right-of-Entry forms from landowners as they voluntarily join the project, and completing the Benefit-Cost Analysis. Phase one will also involve environmental review and clearance. Phase 2 will include the implementation of the project on the qualifying and approved properties. Implementation includes defensible space clearance such as cutting and chipping brush and fuels reduction such as removal and disposal of fire hazard trees over 10" in diameter.

Contact Information

Name
Rowland Hickel
Agency Name
Butte County
Job Title
Senior Planner
Contact Types
Lead/Public Agency / Project Applicant

Location

Counties
Butte
Regions
Countywide, Unincorporated
Parcel #
Numerous
Other Location Info
The eastern portion of Butte County, excluding the Town of Paradise. Activity areas are within the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and 500 feet of a main evacuation route.

Notice of Exemption

Exempt Status
Categorical Exemption
Type, Section or Code
Class 4 Type, Section 15304 - Minor Alterations to Land
Reasons for Exemption
The project is a hazardous fuel management program activity that consists of minor treatments to vegetation in the form of hand-cutting, piling, and onsite chipping of brush, small trees, and standing or downed burned trees (10 inches in diameter and larger) that are determined to be a fire hazard by a certified arborist or registered professional forester to be removed, within 100 feet of existing structures for the creation of defensible space. The activities do not result in the taking of endangered, rare, or threatened plant or animal species, or sedimentation to surface waters. No vegetation removal would be performed near any wetlands, ponds, or rivers. An RPF would identify and establish a minimum 25-foot to 150-foot buffer around these resources, dependent upon stream class and slope, as recommended by the NMFS for the State Hazard Tree Removal Program (NMFS 2022).
County Clerk
Butte

Attachments

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