County of Mendocino

Following the 2017 Redwood Complex Fire, which destroyed over 350 homes in Redwood Valley, the County of Mendocino requested support from LACO Associates to navigate the complex and challenging response process to a devastating wildfire. As residents began the arduous process of rebuilding their homes, a challenging circumstance became apparent: the current California Building Code requires fire sprinklers in all new homes in certain fire hazard severity zones, all of which comprise the Redwood Valley area impacted by the fire. Unfortunately, the Redwood Valley County Water District infrastructure was not of sufficient size to support fire flows to serve new fire sprinklers. This was a significant impediment to rebuilding for many landowners who were already under- or uninsured. LACO worked with the District and County staff to develop a conceptual design and funding application for retrofitting the existing water distribution system to improve flows as well as improve seismic resiliency. This project resulted in over $6 million in funding to complete design and construction, facilitating the rebuild of over 350 homes and improving community resiliency over the long run.

Following LACO’s success in supporting initial recovery efforts for the 2017 fires, in 2018, the County of Mendocino selected LACO Associates through a competitive process to provide long-term disaster recovery grant writing services. Since that time, LACO has worked collaboratively with County staff to identify and prioritize recovery and resilience projects, assess funding sources, and secure grant funding to implement those projects. This work has included securing funding awards through the USDA Community Facilities Program for infrastructure to mitigate public safety power shutoffs, Pacific Gas and Electric Company for wildfire evacuation planning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for fuels mitigation projects, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development for local planning projects as well as social service projects, including a highly competitive Project Homekey award in September 2020. Overall, LACO has secured over $20 million in funding for the County over this time period, while also supporting grant implementation and management activities.

Through the state’s Proposition 1 Road to Recovery: Redwood Complex Fire Restoration grant program, LACO helped the County fund and execute a planning grant that was used to inventory over 30 miles of unpaved roadways in the Russian and Eel River watersheds assessing damaged stream crossings, evaluating hillslopes for instability, and developing a reforestation plan for 240 acres of burned hillslopes, all of which will limit erosion and reduce sediment delivery to watercourses once implemented. LACO has since conducted a similar evaluation within the footprint of the 2021 Hopkins Fire in Calpella. For that project, our emphasis was in stabilizing the burned area for the coming winter rainy season. We inventoried the roadway, conducted preliminary slope stability assessments, and designed interim best management practices to minimize erosion and delivery of sediment to watercourses until permanent solutions could be designed.

Following the declaration of a major federal disaster due to the Redwood Complex Fire and Mendocino Complex Fire the State of California was eligible for FEMA funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for state, local, tribal, and non-profit organizations. LACO aided the County’s application for a grant to fund planning and installation of an emergency early warning siren system to allow notification of emergencies not only from fire, but also, flooding, dam rupture due to earthquake, coastal tsunamis, toxic releases, and other critical hazard situations. In addition to grant preparation, LACO participated in planning stages by conducting a viewshed GIS analysis that provided guidance in site selection. Preliminary locations were analyzed to determine an appropriate directional radius for each siren as well as the appropriate height above ground. As sound can be attenuated or blocked by trees, hills, and other physical impediments, it was imperative to determine the optimum height at any given location and planned direction. This involved complex GIS analysis to visualize a 3-dimensional representation of soundwave travel of each combination of height and direction at each planned location.

To date, LACO has secured over $14 million in outside funding for the County to aid response and recovery. Our multidisciplinary team helped the County prioritize projects, identify relevant funding sources, and pursue funds to supplement recovery resources and satisfy local matching requirements.

LACO is expert at navigating state and federal funding agency requirements state and federal funding agencies, including the California Natural Resources Agency, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, North Coast Resource Partnership, State Water Resources Control Board, and US Department of Agriculture, and, upon request, will contact potential funders on your behalf to discuss eligibility and project compatibility with funding goals to understand project “fit” – an essential step in increasing success rates. LACO’s grant writers have technical expertise working on teams comprising civil engineers, land use planners, surveyors, and geotechnical and biological experts, and are accustomed to project programming through development of detailed scopes of work and associated budgets, essential components of any grant application. As an integrated engineering, geotechnical, and planning firm, we have the technical knowledge to assist with design, cost estimating, technical reports, drawings, and permitting. This depth of knowledge allows us to create compelling grant applications that tell a story and clearly outline how the requested funds will be used to achieve both the applicant’s and the funding organizations goals and objectives.

In addition to the services discussed above, LACO has provided services to the County in other areas that help the County manage their natural resources. LACO conducted five years of inspection and reporting for the County’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) obligations covering surface mines. LACO conducted annual inspections on over 30 quarry mines in Mendocino County and kept the County in compliance with State report requirements.

Have Questions?

Skip to content