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.

California adopts emergency regulation for removing dead and dying trees

June 24, 2015

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. […]

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Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District Public Hearing June 17 for Proposed Smoke Management Permit Fee

June 7, 2015

There will be a public hearing prior to rule adoption for the Smoke Management Permit Fee Rule 311 on: June 17, 2015 – 1:30 P.M. Location: 24580 Silver Cloud Court, 3rd Floor, Monterey, California The proposed fee structure is: Fee Category                             […]

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EPA Proposes Tightening Ground-level Ozone Limits

February 9, 2015

We first caught wind of this move at the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council conference in early December.  Briefly, the EPA is proposing to tighten the existing ground-level ozone standards from 75 ppb (parts per billion) to 65-70 ppb while taking comment on a 60 ppb level. The prescribed fire community was very alarmed about this […]

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SRA Fees Update: the lawsuit continues while the money funds a grant program 

November 3, 2014

The legislative session is over for 2014, but litigation continues on the validity of the State Responsibility Area “fire prevention fees”.  The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) reports that their suit to overturn the fee is being stalled by the state, which is filing “demurrers”, which are requests to dismiss the suit based on legal or […]

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Upcoming Events

October 16, 2014

The calendar now has three new events: Monterey Air Board Prescribed Burn Workshop – October 22, 2014 10:30 am to 1:00 pm Air District Office 24580 Silver Cloud Court Monterey, CA 93940 Exotic Phytophthora Sepcies in Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration Plantings and Wildlands – December 2, 2014 8:30 am-4:30 pm Location: Log Cabin, 1299 Storey Ave, […]

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Wildfire hazard mitigation – Who doesn’t get it

August 12, 2014

The Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District recently released a letter proposing “cost recovery fees” for burn permits. Burning is one of the most cost-effective and efficient methods of reducing overgrown vegetation and is also environmentally friendly.  Many of our native species depend on fire to germinate seeds and stimulate growth.  It can also […]

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Wildfire hazard mitigation – Who gets it

August 12, 2014

The United States Legislature currently has a bill, HR 3992, The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2014, which would change to funding mechanism for handling wildfire disasters to align with other disaster funding streams such as those already in place for “predictable” emergencies such as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.  The intent is to forestall raiding […]

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Rim Fire tests effectiveness of fuel treatment projects

October 8, 2013

The Forest Service has released a preliminary report assessing the effectiveness of several fuel treatment projects that were performed to reduce fire hazard in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park.  In the aftermath of the Rim Fire, which burned through 250,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest in August, 2013, data was collected […]

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Introduction to Prescribed Fire

August 23, 2013

                   There are many tools in the forest manager’s toolkit.  One of the most ancient is fire.  From the time the first Native Americans arrived in the Americas, they employed fire to improve their environment, enhancing the growth of plants used for food and tools and improving […]

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Northern California Prescribed Fire Council will host their spring meeting in Hopland

March 14, 2013

Are you interested in learning more about prescribed burning?  An opportunity to learn from the local experts is coming up at the Nor Cal Rx Fire Council’s upcoming meeting on April 25-26. The meeting will host Ken Pimlott, Director of CalFIRE, Sarah McCaffrey, Researcher with the USFS Northern Research Station, Dennis Martinez of the Indigenous […]

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