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 to find links to your closest Fire Safe Council and their activities.

CalFIRE’s Ready for Wildfire website ( 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.

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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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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