Communities across the Sierra are proactively preparing for wildfire, but language, economic, and social barriers are creating a divide between fire-ready community members and those who are not able to take proactive measures. In the extreme, wildfire causes loss of life, shelter, and livelihood. Emergency preparedness, the creation of defensible space, landowner assistance programs, fuels reduction efforts, and knowledge of evacuation routes all empower residents to respond to fire. Providing education and access to these tools and techniques is a key goal of the Firewise Communities USA program. Nevada County has more Firewise Communities than any other county in California, yet the vast majority of these are located in affluent, white residential enclaves. Communities with the fewest economic and social resources, including Spanish-speaking residents, are thus at greatest risk in the event of wildfire.
To address this disparity, TSF’s Environmental Justice Community Organizer, Greg Thrush, is launching outreach efforts in Nevada County to increase the accessibility of tools and resources for Spanish-speakers to better prepare for fire.
As part of this effort, TSF hosted a free and public Spanish-language presentation on July 25th. More than 20 people came to learn what is being done in Nevada County to prevent and prepare for the possibility of wildfire. The presentation covered how to become “fire ready,” including registering for Code Red, creating and sharing emergency plans with family and friends, preparing a go-bag, identifying evacuation routes and learning about defensible space and other resources that are available.