Updated county disaster mitigation plan offers ways to reduce increasing wildfire, power shutoff risks
Published Nov. 18, 2021
With natural disaster risks increasing, Placer County’s updated Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, approved this week by the Board of Supervisors, offers a way forward to reduce the threat to lives and property while helping avoid costly disaster recovery expenses.
The plan, a partnership with cities and over 20 special districts, assesses the risk of floods, drought, wildfires, severe weather and other natural hazards of concern to the county. While hazards are not always preventable, a hazard mitigation plan establishes the foundation for a long-term community strategy to reduce disaster losses, while also making Federal Emergency Management Agency resources available upon plan approval.
A FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan allows agencies to apply for pre- and post-disaster mitigation grant funding. It can also increase community ratings used for the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System, which can result in lower flood insurance premiums through the program.
“By nature, our communities are vulnerable to threats and hazards that present long-term risks to people and their property,” said Dave Atkinson, Placer’s assistant director of emergency services. “Mitigation planning helps us avoid or reduce the impact of disasters, and supports protection and prevention activities, improves emergency response and speeds recovery to create better prepared and more resilient communities.”
In 2005, Placer County and local jurisdiction partners completed the original LHMP, which was then updated and approved in 2010 and 2016. These updates identified and prioritized over 160 mitigation projects to better prepare the county. The 2021 updates include refined risk assessments for disasters such as fires and floods, enhanced programs to reduce the cost of flood insurance, expanded federal grant opportunities and streamlined response operations after emergencies. The plan also updated and prioritized the county’s mitigation project list.
Public safety power shutoffs are one of the new risks identified, as well as the need for more backup generator programs to address this risk. Increased tree mortality due to bark beetle infestation was a hazard to local roadways and infrastructure, which was addressed by the county’s tree mortality program. Drought and water shortage are also increased threats, and the plan prioritizes drought irrigation and landscape retrofit incentives throughout the county.
Wildfire risk continues to be a top priority in the plan, which has resulted in the implementation of many forest and land health programs such as the French Meadows Forest Restoration Project, Middle Fork project, the county chipper program, goat grazing and more.
“This plan is critical for our county to ensure we are prepared and adaptable to disasters for years to come,” said Placer County Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Weygandt. “From forest health to power shutoffs, to drought preparation, every penny we invest in mitigation saves us dividends in the event of an emergency.”
The plan went through an extensive public and stakeholder review process with multiple opportunities for feedback. The draft plan was also posted on the plan’s webpage for review and continued public dialogue.
Interested residents can find more information by visiting the LHMP webpage at https://www.placer.ca.gov/1381/Local-Hazard-Mitigation-Plan.