Forest Health and Fire Resiliency


Forest Health and Planning for Fire

If you have been impacted by a recent wildfire visit our Post-fire Recovery page and watch our free webinar series Protecting Your Land After a Wildfire. For further assistance contact Timothy Federal at

Need to create defensible space around your home or other structures? Check out the Neighborhood Chipper Program – you cut and stack, we’ll do the rest!

The San Mateo County Forest Health and Fire Resilience Public Works Plan (PWP) has been developed by the RCD to streamline planning, reviewing and permitting projects in the coastal zone. More information is available here. 

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

The San Mateo RCD is dedicated to helping people help the land and developing wildfire resiliency in San Mateo County. We work in close partnership with local agencies, organizations and communities to accomplish this goal. The San Mateo RCD’s current roles are:

  1. Developing programmatic permits and streamlined permitting tools for forest health and fire resiliency projects
  2. Providing technical assistance to landowners to design, permit and implement projects for forest health and vegetation management
  3. Coordinating the county-wide Neighborhood Chipping Program to help homeowners and residents create and manage defensible space around homes and roads in partnership with Fire Safe San Mateo County, CAL FIRE, County Fire, and local community partners
  4. Implementing large-scale forest health projects across 800+ acres on public and private lands
  5. Developing and implementing vegetation management projects to address invasive plant species such as Eucalyptus and Hypericum
  6. Collaborating in regional forest and fire groups such as Coastal Regional Prioritization Group and Santa Cruz Mountain Stewardship Network to identify key projects, understand potential barriers, and develop solutions in partnership
  7. Assisting landowners and residents in post-fire recovery following the historic 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fires


  • NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service)
  • San Mateo County Parks
  • Fire Safe San Mateo County
  • State Parks
  • Girls Scouts of Northern California
  • RCD of Santa Cruz County


  • San Mateo County
  • CAL FIRE Forest Health program
  • Coastal Conservancy
  • California Fire Safe Council
  • NRCS

RCD Contact: Timothy Federal