CALIFORNIA, Western Shasta RCD – Two years before the Carr Fire a local agency named 159 clearing projects that would spare communities from being overrun by wildland blazes throughout Shasta County, but almost none of them happened.
The Community Wildfire Protection Plan put together by the Anderson-based Western Shasta Resource Conservation District prioritized tree-thinning and brush-removal work in 10 areas.
But by the time the Carr Fire hit in July 2018 only two of those projects had been completed. One was in Shasta Lake and the other in Shingletown — neither where the 229,651-acre Carr Fire burned.
That failure to manage a known risk comes down to bureaucracy and process, said Chester Anderson, the district’s former manager.
The problem was not with planning, according to Anderson, who recently left the director’s post, but with shortcomings in how California paid for critical fire safety operations.
Both Anderson and the director of a statewide association of resource conservation districts (RCDs) agree the process lets urgent work languish. Shasta County programs have to compete for grants with agencies across the state, and funding arrives sporadically and unpredictably.