Napa County has begun conducting a countywide Fire Needs Assessment in efforts to create a Fire Master Plan. Napa County’s consultant, AP Triton, has released a survey to provide community members an opportunity for input. The Napa Valley Grapegrowers encourages members to participate. The survey will be open until 5:00 pm on February 8.
The purpose of a Long-Range Master Plan is to evaluate the County Fire Department in relation to the community’s current risks, anticipate community growth, and recommend solutions. The study will review fire department response data, department staffing levels, apparatus and station conditions and locations, and the County’s unique hazards and infrastructure. The study is intended to position the County to address that growth in advance with appropriate resources and infrastructure.
Napa industry groups are spending nearly $100,000 to get through wildfire season
By Jess Lander, SF Chronicle
As California enters the height of fire season, Napa wine and hospitality groups have joined forces in an effort to stop blazes from getting out of control.
With government resources spread thin and a wildfire prevention initiative failing to pass in Napa in June, private organizations are stepping in. Together, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners and Visit Napa Valley are spending $33,000 per month for around-the-clock monitoring of artificial intelligence-powered cameras that can detect a fire within seconds of starting.
But the collaboration is only a temporary solution. While it will hopefully help keep residents and businesses safe through the current fire season, the groups also want to send a clear message to Napa County to do more next year.
Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley Fund 24/7 Wildfire Detection Sensors
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley have joined together to fund three early detection wildfire sensors on Atlas Peak, Clover Flat, and Diamond Mountain with 24/7 monitoring to protect Napa County residents and businesses from wildfires. The three organizations have assumed financial responsibility for the service through the months of September, October, and November 2022: the peak of Napa County’s fire season, covering some of the County’s highest fire-risk areas.
The Illumination Technologies (ITC) state of the art “IQ FireWatch sensors” triangulate locations of potential fire threats, including identifying specific parcel numbers in Napa County. This program was initiated in 2021 by Napa County and was maintained through public funds. Continued funding was expected to come from the ¼ percent sales tax proposed in Napa County’s Measure L, which unfortunately did not pass. To fill the gap, local grape growers Caymus Vineyards, E. & J. Gallo Winery, and Circle R Ranch & Vineyards generously donated funds to keep the sensors active during the beginning of the 2022 fire season. When the service was set to discontinue on August 31, 2022, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley stepped up to ensure early detection services continue uninterrupted through the end of this fire season. This partnership is a model for community-based resiliency work in the face of increased fire and climate risks that have greatly affected the Napa Valley community over the last several years.
“When we realized the service was at risk of shutting down, these organizations sprang into action to ensure the sensors stayed on. Early detection is a valuable tool in the toolbox when it comes to protecting the entire community from the wildfires like we’ve experienced over the last several years. Now with the partnership between Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Visit Napa Valley, and Napa Valley Vintners, this program will continue to safeguard the Napa Valley community through fire season. We’re proud to carry this community-first, collaborative initiative forward,” said Tom Davies, president and part-owner of V.Sattui Winery, who sits on the Napa Valley Grapegrowers Board of Directors, is the FY23 Chair of Visit Napa Valley Board of Directors, and is a long-time member of the Napa Valley Vintners.
The three existing cameras currently cover 48% of Napa County in high-risk areas. As part of this initiative, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley are committed to working with other industry and community partners during this fire season and onward to implement a long-term plan for maintaining ongoing early detection services and expanding coverage to more areas throughout the County.
To support funding for the wildfire detection sensors, please email Molly Moran Williams, NVG Industry and Community Relations Director, at email@example.com.
On Monday, as temperatures reached record highs, the NVG-funded wildfire sensors were first to detect a fire in the Oakville/Yountville area enabling the Fire Department to get it under control right away. Additionally, NVG is awaiting reports on three additional fire detections picked up by the sensors and kept under control within the last 24 hours. With the heat advisory still in effect, we are grateful to have 24/7 early fire detection still in place in high-risk areas of Napa County.
In August, NVG announced carrying forward a fire detection initiative funding three early detection sensors for the month of September on Atlas Peak, Clover Flat, and Diamond Mountain with 24/7 monitoring to protect Napa County residents and businesses from wildfires.
As part of this initiative, NVG has also committed to working with industry and community partners to ensure detection through the 2022 fire season while scoping how to maintain early detection for the long-term for Napa County.
Napa Valley Grapegrowers Funds 24/7 Early Fire Detection Sensors for the Community
NVG will carry forward a fire detection initiative, funding three early detection sensors for the month of September on Atlas Peak, Clover Flat, and Diamond Mountain with 24/7 monitoring to protect Napa County residents and businesses from wildfires.
The Illumination Technologies (ITC) state of the art “IQ FireWatch sensors” triangulate locations of potential fire threats including identifying specific parcel numbers in Napa County. This program was initiated in 2021, funded by Napa County. However, without the passing of Measure L, the service could no longer be maintained through public funds. Through the generosity of local grape growers, the sensors have continued to protect the community through the month of August. NVG will be taking on fiscal responsibility for the service through the month of September, at the peak of harvest and Napa County’s fire season—and in some of the County’s highest fire-risk areas.
“When we realized the service was at risk of shutting down, NVG leadership sprung into action to ensure the sensors stayed on. Early detection is a valuable tool in the toolbox when it comes to protecting the entire community from the wildfires like we’ve experienced over the last several years. We’re proud to carry this community-first, collaborative initiative forward,” said Tom Davies, who sits on NVG’s Board of Directors, Industry Issues Committee, and Wildfire Task Force.
As part of this initiative, NVG also commits to working with industry and community partners during the month of September and onward to implement a long-term plan for maintaining ongoing early detection services and expanding coverage to more areas throughout the County.
NVG would like to recognize the incredible generosity and stewardship of Caymus Vineyards and Circle R Ranch & Vineyards for their individual contributions that allowed the ITC service to remain in place through August in service to the entire community.
In addition to this initiative, the NVG Wildfire Task Force is engaged with several other projects including:
USDA has released disaster assistance funding for producers that sustained losses due to wildfire, smoke, heat, and more in 2020 and 2021. NVG has continually advocated for disaster assistance for members following the 2020 wildfires and is grateful to Congressman Thompson for his continued efforts in securing this critical funding.
The WHIP+ program has been renamed the Emergency Relief Program (ERP). Funds will be released in TWO PHASES, beginning with PHASE 1 producers. To determine which PHASE you are eligible for, review the following flowchart created by NVG.
PHASE 1 Application Process
Receive Free Technical Assistance with your Application
NVG and FWF are providing free technical assistance to Napa County producers in either PHASE 1 or PHASE 2, in partnership with Morrison and Co. If you are interested in receiving technical assistance with your application, please use the following interest form.
It’s no surprise that the notion of preparedness and designing defensible spaces has made its way into the mainstream vernacular for all members of our community. Since 2017, 60% of the landcover in Napa County has been touched by fire. Across California, over 4.3 million acres of land burned in 2020 alone.
Wildfires may have become the new normal in California, but as a community we can work together to be more resilient and better prepared. To this end, creating fire-ready vineyards and landscapes is essential.
In the aftermath of the 2020 Glass Fire, which burned large swaths of the Viader family’s Howell Mountain estate vineyard, as well as 30,000 surrounding trees, proprietor Delia Viader and her son, grape grower and winemaker, Alan Viader, are rebuilding their estate property through a new lens.
They are preparing for the next fire threat by creating a defensible space that protects their vines and structures and, in circumstances as serious as the Glass Fire, gives firefighters a chance to fend off impending flames safely. And they want to help their wine country neighbors to do the same.
What is WHIP+?
Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP+) program will provide $10 billion in critical relief to growers who suffered financial losses in 2020 and 2021 as a result of:
Eligibility and Application Details
Eligible producers include an individual or legal entity that assumes ownership share and risk of the crop, production, and market risk associated with the agricultural production of the eligible crops (including trees, bushes, and vines) that were verifiably grown/produced at the time of the disaster. The application is anticipated to open in the Spring of 2022.
What to do now to prepare for WHIP+ applications
Growers who are interested in applying when funding becomes available must first establish their farm records with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and complete a crop report before applying.
This can be done now by filling out the FSA form. Proof of farm ownership (i.e. with a deed of trust, or property tax coupon that shows the APN#) and a ranch map is required, and can be submitted via email to your local FSA office at FSA.Vacaville.CA@usda.gov.
Professional grant writing assistance at no cost to small producers!
As part of our recent California Underserved and Small Producers Program (CUSP) grant award, we are offering growers who fit the "small producer" criteria the ability to engage with a consulting firm to receive professional grant writing assistance when establishing farm records and applying for WHIP+ funding. If you are interested in utilizing these complimentary services to assist in your WHIP+ application, please contact Molly Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org at your earliest convenience.
All producers are encouraged to contact the Solano/Napa County FSA office for assistance with establishing records and applying for WHIP+.
Solano/Napa County FSA Office
810 Vaca Valley Pkwy Ste 102, Vacaville
P: (707) 448-0106 | F: (844) 206-0106
Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) Financial Assistance
The USDA has also announced this new financial assistance program for agricultural producers. Growers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit if you plant cover crops during the 2022 crop year.
Contact the Solano/Napa County FSA office via email or phone at (707) 448—0106 for assistance and more information.
Informational Webinar and How to Apply
Friday, December 17 | 10am
Applications will open soon for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+), providing $10 billion in critical relief to growers and farmers who have suffered financial losses as a result of wildfires, smoke exposure, drought, excessive heat, and other natural disasters in 2020 and 2021.
In anticipation of this, the USDA Napa/Solano County Farm Service Agency (FSA) in conjunction with Sonoma/Marin FSA, is conducting a short webinar on this and other programs that offer disaster benefits to growers, farmers, and ranchers.
To register, contact Brooke Raffaele at Brooke.Raffaele@USDA.gov
The webinar will emphasize how to register farm records and what is required, including eligibility paperwork, in anticipation of program opportunities.
Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to Provide Critical Relief to Growers Impacted by Fire and Smoke
On September 30, President Biden signed into law a funding bill including $10 billion for the reauthorization of the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). The program will provide critical relief for growers and farmers who have suffered financial losses as a result of wildfires, smoke exposure, drought, excessive heat, and other natural disasters in 2020 and 2021.
Napa Valley growers will be advised to work with their local USDA Service Center to submit an application when the program officially re-opens. Please note, at this time appointments and applications are not possible until more guidance is in place. However, NVG will keep members informed and share instructions on how to apply as soon as the information becomes available.
NVG has continually advocated for disaster assistance for members following the 2020 wildfires and is grateful to Congressman Thompson for his continued efforts in securing this critical funding.