The California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has adopted an emergency regulation for removal of dead and dying trees. The emergency regulation will allow individual landowners or professional foresters to apply for an exemption to cut dead and dying trees of any size without the typical timber harvest plan, submission requirements, and completion and stocking report requirements. […]
Fire and Your Land
Fire is a normal part of Central Coast ecology. Many of the local ecosystems are even fire-dependent for sustained health and regeneration. Given this, local land managers must factor fire into their management strategies. Here, we explore the many facets of fire on your landscape, including preparing your infrastructure for surviving a wildfire, managing your forest for fire-resilience, the steps to take for recovery after a fire passes through your land and the role of prescribed fire in maintaining or enhancing your ecosystem.
The first stage of preparation is creating defensible space around your infrastructure. This work starts with hardening your structures so fire cannot catch hold and creating a buffer zone between the local vegetation and your house and outbuildings.
The next step to consider for your safety and the safe access of firefighters is creating shaded fuel-breaks. Shaded fuel breaks are zones where the vegetation has been cut back to remove ladder fuels and to ensure there is space between trees to reduce the chances that fire will climb into the the foliage of the trees or leap between trees, preventing stand-destroying crown fires. The best locations for shaded fuel breaks are along access roads and over ridge tops. Depending on the steepness of the terrain and the density of the surrounding vegetation, the width of a shaded fuel break should range from 100 to 300 feet.
The effectiveness of shaded fuel breaks may depend on the state of the properties neighboring you. Fire Safe Councils provide mechanisms for neighborhoods to join together to manage fire hazards as a group project. Explore http://www.firesafecouncil.org/find/index.cfm to find links to your closest Fire Safe Council and their activities.
CalFIRE’s Ready for Wildfire website (http://www.readyforwildfire.org) contains specific information for what every wildland or wildland/urban interface resident should address on their properties to protect their homes.
There is another face to fire, its natural function in the environment, which has been suppressed for at least the last century. Many plants require fire to regenerate. Knobcone pinecones remain tightly sealed until the heat of a passing fire bursts them open and scatters the seed. Redwood seeds need to germinate on bare soil, and fire clears away the accumulated duff under the trees. Prescribed burning is the reintroduction of fire into these impaired landscapes for the purposes of reducing future fire hazard, providing for the regeneration of fire-dependent species and potentially reducing plant disease pathogens. It has been so long since fire has been a normal part of the ecosystem that the full nature of its role in the environment is not understood.
We look forward to adding articles addressing all the aspect of fire in the Central Coast landscape.