$3 Million Cal Fire Prevention Grant to Fund Creation of a Shaded Fuel Break Across Southern Lafayette and Walnut Creek
CONCORD, CALIF. – Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) today announced receipt of a $3 million California Climate Investments Wildfire Prevention grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). The grant is for creation of a shaded fuel break across southern Lafayette and Walnut Creek, that will, when completed in 2024, afford significant protection from wildfires for residents in the communities of Rossmoor and southern Lafayette.
The Lafayette/Walnut Creek Shaded Fuel Break (LWCSFB) project area will encompass 194 acres along some 11 miles of open space in the East Bay. Work is expected to commence in approximately 120 days, after necessary permits are obtained, environmental studies are completed and a contractor is selected through an RFP process.
The grant directly supports Con Fire’s efforts to quickly suppress fires in densely-populated wildland-urban interface and hard-to-access grassland areas before they are able to threaten homes, businesses and other property.
“We’re pleased to announce receipt of this grant, which will contribute immensely to our ability to protect communities we serve,” said Lewis Broschard, fire chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “The construction of this fire break across southern Contra Costa County will allow us to immediately reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in Rossmoor and Lafayette communities such as we have seen around the state in recent years.”
“This grant will greatly benefit our Lafayette and Rossmoor communities,” said Candace Anderson, Supervisor, District 2, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “Both are vulnerable to wildfires, have limited evacuation routes, and this grant will provide one added measure of safety.”
“The Rossmoor Community is extremely grateful to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District for obtaining this grant to make Rossmoor even safer,” said Tom Cashion, Public Safety Manager, Golden Rain Foundation – Rossmoor. “We truly value our ongoing combined efforts to make Rossmoor one of the safest communities in California.”
The LWCSFB will be another powerful tool in Con Fire’s growing arsenal of resources to protect the communities we serve. Slowing fire spread also allows more time to carry out an effective evacuation and reduces the risk of residents being unable to escape an approaching fire. The LWCSFB follows a strategically important route that supports these goals.
This project is being carried out to reduce dangerous wildfire fuels in a deliberate manner designed to minimize environmental impacts to wildlife and protected plants. It is designed to help protect residents in the communities of Lafayette and Walnut Creek from a wildfire approaching from open space to the south.
The LWCSFB will significantly reduce the threat by reducing fuels critical to the spread of a wildfire. These fuels are understory vegetation, dead and dying trees, and highly combustible brush. Reducing the quantities of these fuels will lower the intensity and speed of a wildfire allowing more time for firefighters to respond. The tree canopy formed by healthy mature trees will remain largely intact to reduce the future growth of brush and understory vegetation to include invasive non-native plant species.
The desired result is to restore fuel loading to more natural levels that can be maintained by the periodic introduction of prescribed fires. This fuel break will provide essential opportunities for firefighting success by providing areas of lower fire intensity and enhanced fire lines.
About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader – Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to some 625,000 residents in nine cities and five unincorporated areas across our 304 square-mile jurisdiction. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through our unique sub-contractor Alliance model across the District and beyond to include some 520 square miles of the County. In 2021, the District responded to more than 141,000 incidents of all types, including some 55,000 fire and EMS emergencies, and dispatched nearly 100,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 75,000 ambulance transports.The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property, and the environment.