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Grizzly Flats

Grizzly FlatsGrizzly Flats, California is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 50 miles east of Sacramento. The community’s elevation is 4,000 feet and it lies in a heavily forested area. The town was founded in 1850 as a gold mining community and the area has suffered two devastating fires. The first fire occurred in 1863, when most of the commercial district burned. Then, in 1869, a fire completely consumed the commercial district. Due to a decline in mining and general population, the town was never rebuilt. The population remained low until the late 1960’s when the Grizzly Park subdivision was created. Initially, homes and cabins were mostly occupied by retirees and weekend residents. During the past ten years, many families have made Grizzly Flats their full-time residence and the area now has 600; the population stands at a little over 1,200.

In 2004, the Grizzly Flats Fire Safe Council was formed under the umbrella of the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council, consisting of 25 community members. The mission of the Grizzly Flats Fire Safe Council is to preserve Grizzly Flats' natural and manmade resources by informing, educating and mobilizing all residents and landowners to make their homes, neighborhood and communities fire safe.

Grizzly Flats has been identified as a community at risk in the Federal Register. The land within and adjacent to Grizzly Flats has heavy fuel loads and steep topography and is very vulnerable to wildfire. It is classified as a wildland/urban interface zone. With assistance and support from the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council and the USDA-Forest Service, registered professional foresters developed a community action plan for the community.

One of the first steps for the Council was to identify viable evacuation routes in the event of a disaster. Packets that contained evacuation route maps, information on the Council, brush chipping programs, Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) recruitment and medical history forms were distributed to every homeowner within Grizzly Flats. The information was put into a magnetic folder that could be placed on the refrigerator and retrieved quickly during an emergency.

Recently, the Fire Safe Council received almost $500,000 in grant funding to initiate a fuel reduction project along the evacuation routes. These routes transverse two-lane county roads that contain heavy fuel loads. In addition to the threat of fire cutting off the evacuation routes for residents and the school, emergency responders could be endangered attempting to enter the community. A contractor was selected in the later summer of 2007 and, as of January 2008, over one-half of the project was completed.

Grizzly FlatsThe Grizzly Flats Fire Safe Council, partnered with representatives from the Pioneer Fire Protection District, is also performing site visits to every developed parcel within the community and conducting advisory defensible space inspections. Residents are educated about steps they should take to make their properties safer and more survivable during a wildfire. In 2008, the Council plans to identify vacant parcels with heavy fuel loads that could endanger adjacent developed parcels in the event of a wildfire. Absentee property owners will be sent notices requesting that fuel reduction be performed.

Other Grizzly Flats Fire Safe Council activities include: C.E.R.T., maintenance of the Trestle Trail (a historical logging railroad right-of-way) within the El Dorado National Forest, the annual Grizzly Flats Clean-Up Day and Grizzly Flats Fire Safe Council fundraising barbeque. Area residents also receive a bi-monthly newsletter informing them of events within the community, tips on general fire safety and how to make their properties safer.

Grizzly FlatsThe Council enjoys an excellent working relationship with many local agencies, including: The Pioneer Fire Protection District, USDA-Forest Service, CALFIRE (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection), El Dorado County Supervisor’s Office, El Dorado County Sheriff, El Dorado County Department of Transportation, El Dorado County Fire Safe Council and the Grizzly Flats Community Services District. Most are regularly represented at the Council’s meetings, held the first Saturday of each month.

The community of Grizzly Flats received Firewise Communities/USA recognition in October 2007. A subcommittee of the Grizzly Flat Fire Safe Council has been formed to specifically work with Firewise Communities projects.