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Fuels Reduction Projects- Grant Funded

Heavily wooded area before and after around Twain Harte Wastewater Treatment Plant

USDA Forst Service Community Wildfire Defense Grant- ACTIVE

March 21, 2023

Tuolumne Utilities District is excited and proud to announce the successful acquisition of the USDA Forst Service Community Wildfire Defense Grant, a crucial step in fortifying our community against the escalating threat of wildfires.  This grant, totaling $249,927 will allow TUD to develop a comprehensive Wildfire Risk Mitigation Plan- a roadmap for addressing local wildfire risk.  A key focus of the grant will be to establish a Wildfire Protection Draft-Points Plan, strategically identifying raw water fire draft-points throughout the district.

Notably, the driving force behind securing this vital funding was Board Vice President, Ron Ringen and Board Director, Barbara Balen (who served as Board President at the time of the grant application), both dedicated advocates for the community’s safety.  Their commitment and leadership were pivotal in navigating the grant pursuit process, showcasing TUD’s proactive approach to wildfire prevention.

Vice President Ringen expressed his excitement stating, “I’m just thrilled that we are going to be getting that grant to finally accomplish our goal, which will benefit the entire community.  By improving firefighter’s access to untreated water sources, we preserve the system’s potable water for critical drinking and sanitary purposes.”

Director Balen emphasized the significance of this plan stating, “This plan will maximize TUD’s ability to make gravity-fed, non-potable, raw water available for emergency fire response while reducing the risk of fire to our water infrastructure through vegetation management.  TUD pulled together a stellar team including Rick Lind from EN2 out of Placerville and Biology Conservation Institute who worked with post-fire recovery plans for Paradise. It is critical that we protect our green infrastructure for wildlife while making non-potable water available.  It all works together, and I hope the insurance companies take these things into consideration.”

The District is excited to receive this funding and looks forward to engaging the community and its agency partners to identify shared wildfire concerns and begin prioritizing risk-reducing actions to mitigate the risk of wildfire.

 

The TUD Critical District Fuels Reduction Project, Phase 2- COMPLETED

June 6, 2024

Tuolumne Utilities District is pleased to announce the successful completion of the TUD Critical District Fuels Reduction (Phase 2) Project, which reduced hazardous fuel loading around the Twain Harte Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The $160,522 project, funded by a grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Climate Investments Wildfire Prevention Grant Program, treated 22.2 acres around the critical wastewater infrastructure using a combination of hand thinning and mastication. This strategic effort has made the facility more resilient and better able to withstand a wildfire event, demonstrating TUD’s ongoing commitment to community goodwill by enhancing safety and resilience for not only the facility, but the surrounding residential area. “TUD sees investing in critical infrastructure protection as a key strategy for building community wildfire resilience,” said TUD General Manager, Don Perkins.

The TUD Critical District Facilities Fuels Reduction Project is part of the district’s broader efforts to reduce community wildfire risk and protect its water and wastewater infrastructure. The district aggressively seeks grant funding to fund much needed projects like this, with the completed project being the second CAL FIRE grant-funded project the district has undertaken which included performing fire protection and resiliency on eight critical water storage facilities throughout the TUD service area in a year.   Additionally, the district is currently working with a consultant to develop a Wildfire Defense Plan and a Wildfire Protection Draft Points Plan, both grant funded and focused on wildfire risk for TUD water systems and surrounding lands.  Key objectives include mapping essential district, community, and natural resources and identifying and prioritizing specific locations and opportunities to manage the system for protecting water resources and community assets. The Draft Points Plan will evaluate water draft points of raw-untreated water and determine the highest priority locations for water drafting to enhance community wildfire protection.

 

The TUD Critical District Fuels Reduction Project, Phase 1- COMPLETED

September 24, 2021

The Tuolumne Utilities District was notified by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) that it will receive $297,869 in grant funding to protect nine water and wastewater facilities situated in high hazardous areas within Tuolumne County from the threat of wildfire.

In May 2021, the District applied for the Cal Fire Climate Investments (CCI) Fire Prevention Grant for the TUD Critical District Facilities Fuels Reduction Project. The TUD Critical District Facilities Fuels Reduction Project provides protection and resiliency to vulnerable infrastructure facilities throughout the TUD service area. To protect life support and public health and provide reliable service to these rural communities, the District will implement a hazardous fuels reduction and vegetation management project to protect eight (8) critical water storage facilities (tanks) and the Twain Harte Wastewater Treatment Facility by using a combination of hand thinning and mastication fuel treatments under the direction of a licensed forester.

“It is always exciting to receive grant funding for important district projects. The District works aggressively to seek grant funding in order to fund much needed projects with a minimum impact to our ratepayers. With this funding, the District can protect valuable water and wastewater infrastructure in very high prone wildfire areas.  If these facilities were destroyed by a wildfire, it would be catastrophic as we have seen happen to other foothill communities.” states Don Perkins, Interim General Manager.

The District will begin implementation once the funds are available in January 2022 with the goal of completing the project by March 2024.

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