Forest Health and Fire Resiliency Program

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Due to local topography, high fuel loads, and frequent extreme drought conditions, the Central Coast of California has significant potential for catastrophic wildfires. An increasing number of houses are built in the Wildland Urban Interface across the region, inadvertently impacting natural fire regimes due to suppression efforts to protect property. Large swaths of chaparral, oak woodlands, and mixed conifer forests have not burned in decades, creating the potential for increased carbon dioxide emissions, flooding, erosion, and ecosystem type conversion in the event of wildfire. Forest and ecosystem health diminishes when fire is suppressed, making natural systems less resilient in the face of climate change.

In San Mateo County, there is a clear need for:

  • Improving forest health
  • Creating adequate defensible space around homes
  • Minimizing fuel loads across larger landscapes
  • Reducing the spread of invasive plants and pathogens
  • Providing technical forestry assistance
  • Providing post-fire landowner assistance on the Central Coast

In addition to addressing threats and impacts of wildfire, improved forest management is needed in the region to:

  • Enhance stream and riparian function,
  • Restore critical habitats for threatened and endangered species
  • To sequester greenhouse gases
  • To reduce erosion and sediment loading of impaired waterways

In response to these needs, the Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) of California’s Central Coast are leading delivery of a regional forest health and resiliency program in coordination with local fire safe councils and numerous other partners.
The San Mateo RCD’s current roles are:

  1. Coordinating Fire Safe San Mateo County, the Fire Safe Council covering San Mateo County
  2. Developing programmatic permits and streamlined permitting tools for forest health and fire resiliency projects (fuels treatment)
  3. Providing technical assistance to landowners to design, permit and implement projects
  4. Coordinating the implementation of fuel treatment projects, like community chipper programs to help homeowners create and manage defensible space around homes and roads
  5. Coordinating the implementation of fuel breaks along key emergency access and evacuation routes
  6. Coordinating the development, designs, permitting and implementation of road and bridge/crossing maintenance along key emergency access and evacuation routes
  7. Providing technical assistance to landowners and managers to develop forest and vegetation management plans to aid with enhancing forest health and fire resiliency

 

Partners:

  • CalFire
  • San Mateo Fire Safe Council
  • RCD of Santa Cruz County

Funders:

  • San Mateo RCD
  • CalFire

RCD Contact: Sheena Sidhu 
sheena@sanmateoRCD.org
650-712-7765 x124