PARADISE, Calif. — Clean up of properties in Paradise destroyed by the Camp Fire is being shifted to areas away from waterways while officials figure out how to best protect endangered species.
The reported delays are impacting properties near water sources. According to Cal OES, debris removal crews, along with Cal Recycle, water boards, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are working together to ensure the process does not threaten the endangered species that use the waterways.
Some of the sensitive species identified in the area, according to CDFW, include Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Foothill yellow-legged frogs, California red-legged frogs, the Western pond turtle and various species of birds and bats.
Cal OES Public Information Officer Justin Jacobs told ABC10 that while debris removal teams await a resolution on that issue, they are still pushing forward in other areas.
“Every debris removal operation is unique and requires regular adjustments by state planning and operations teams,” Jacobs said. “There have been shifts in where debris crews operate as we await protocols…to be developed and implemented in the areas that have been identified as having endangered species and/or ecosystems.”
Jacobs said about 800 properties are located in proximity to waterways. And he said, while debris cleanup on some properties is temporarily on hold, overall recovery efforts are progressing daily.
A resolution to for the environmental concerns is expected “in the coming days,” said Jacobs. In the meantime, more than 100 properties per day are being cleared by 141 debris removal crews, according to Cal OES.
The issue evoked a strong response from State Sen. Jim Nielson, R-Tehama, who spoke out about it on Friday.
“This is truly absurd. Camp Fire survivors must be the chief priority in our cleanup efforts in Paradise and the Ridge. They genuinely deserve the best opportunity to rebuild their lives and restore their communities,” Nielson wrote on his government Facebook page.
Jordan Traverso, Deputy Director of Communications for the state department of fish and wildlife, says they shared with debris removal crews some best practices on how cleanup could be done with respect to the sensitive habitat. She said the department did not ask for a delay, and that Cal OES is the final word on a decision like that.
“We are all saddened by the losses suffered in last year’s Camp Fire and both Cal OES and CDFW are working hard in the community on clean up and recovery efforts,” Traverso said.
The Camp Fire destroyed nearly 19,000 structures, about 14,000 of which were homes. It burned more than 153,000 acres of land, killing 85 people and injuring 17 others, including five firefighters. It was the most destructive wildfire in California history.
Bill Roth fought flames for 10 hours to save his home from the Camp Fire. Armed with nothing more than a garden hose, he saw things that haunt him to this day and watched as all of his Butte County, California neighbors' homes were destroyed. What's life like six months later in Paradise for Beethoven Bill?