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The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, acting in its capacity as the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, has approved a plan for Con Fire to apply for up to $5 million in state grants to create a large firebreak project in central county.

Known as the CCCFPD Lafayette/Walnut Creek Shaded Fuel Break, the project would extend efforts by the Moraga-Orinda Fire District to protect county residents from wildfire threats from the south.

The Moraga-Orinda district finished its 16-mile, $6.3 million fire break last year.

“We’re proposing to extend from where that project left off and go another two miles in Moraga, cross over into Lafayette, up through East Bay Parks (land), and then around, making kind of a horseshow around Rossmoor,” said Con Fire Assistant Chief Chris Bachman.

The break would extend another 12 miles and protect approximately 10,000 residents.

The break would be “shaded,” as the tree canopy formed by healthy mature trees would remain mostly intact, reducing future growth of brush and understory vegetation, while preserving sequestered carbon in existing trees.

Brush would be eliminated around trees from the ground up to six feet of the trees. The break would be 100 feet wide.

A staff report presented at the board’s Feb. 8 meeting said, “The desired result is to restore fuel loading to more natural levels that can be maintained by the periodic introduction of prescribed fire.”

Fire officials said that if the grant application is approved, work on getting the necessary environmental studies and permits would commence “immediately.” The project would take two to three years.

Con Fire also updated the board on fire station construction projects in Bay Point and Pacheco. Much of the exterior work on station 86 in Bay Point is done and workers are painting the interior. Work on the grounds is about to start, and officials say firefighters could occupy the building by fall.

The environmental approval process for station 9 in Pacheco has been held up by drainage issues, something officials say they hope to solve soon.