As Paradise begins rebuilding, some experts say a large firebreak could make a big difference.
The idea: a half mile deep swath of well-managed and maintained open space on the edge of town. Instead of a rat’s nest of manzanita and scotch broom, the wildland would have more fire resistant plants and be trimmed and thinned. In theory, when fire came, it would move slower, giving firefighters time to mobilize, and residents time to get out.
Dan Efseaff is District Manager of the Paradise Recreation and Park District.
“It’s an idea we’re putting out there kind of gently, but I think it has, if you really look at the scale of the idea, it could have huge implications for how Paradise recovers and what type of community it is years from now,” Efseaff said.
After incinerating Concow, flames and burning debris from the Camp Fire raced down into the canyon formed by the Feather River’s West Branch. Almost immediately, fire leapt up the canyon’s other side and into the heart of Paradise.
Some fire experts believe a well-managed zone could reduce that threat, Efseaff said.
Theoretically, property owners are responsible for controlling fire risks on their land. But that’s not really happening. Many parcels dip well into the canyon and are rugged, difficult and expensive to control.
“These could be the equivalent of the wetlands they are trying to develop, trying to protect New Orleans, for example, from future hurricanes,” Efseaff said. “This could be kind of our buffer for future wildfire.”
Efseaff envisions gaining easements or purchasing such property for a defensible ring of park land, but it won’t involve eminent domain. He said none of it will happen without a significant financial infusion from federal and or state sources and he isn’t expecting word about that, before the fall.