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Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Fall Chipping Program Helps Neighborhoods Prepare for Wildfire

chipping FAll 2021The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County is offering neighborhoods, with eight or more participating households, a reimbursements of chipping costs related to the creation of defensible space for wildfire preparedness. The program is available to Santa Cruz County residents who live in areas, defined as the Wildland Urban Interface, that have the potential for wildfire to impact their properties. All chipping must be completed by October 31, 2021 and a neighborhood representative should sign up to reserve funds at chipping.rcdsantacruz.org. The program is first-come-first-served.


With the limited rains over the past few winters, Santa Cruz County is likely to experience greater than normal wildfire risk due to extra dry conditions. This program incentivizes the creation of defensible space around homes in high wildfire risk areas by offering communities with a minimum of eight participating households up to $250 per property. Each property must clear vegetation within 100 feet of occupied structures or 10 feet on either side of a private road that could contribute to the ignition or spread of wildfires. “Now more than ever we need to be diligent about the landscape immediately next to our homes,” explained Angie Gruys, who manages the chipping program for the RCD. “It’s been a difficult year for so many and we hope that by offsetting some of the cost more folks will be able to reduce wildfire hazards around their properties and neighborhoods.”

Establishing and maintaining defensible space around your home and outbuildings, before fire-prone summer months, is imperative in avoiding major damages to your property when wildfire strikes. Defensible space is the buffer you create between buildings and the vegetation that surrounds them to prevent structures from catching fire, either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Creating ample buffer zones not only increases the chances of your home surviving a fire on its own, but it also gives firefighters a safer location from which to defend your home. In fact, fire crews are more likely to spend time and prioritize defending your property if you have taken steps to limit fuel loads around your buildings.

Having defensible space does not mean you need a ring of bare dirt surrounding your property; with proper planning, you can have a fire safe home and a beautiful landscape. The general concept is that trees should be kept farthest from the house, shrubs can be closer, and lawns and bedding plants can be the closest. If your landscaping has a different configuration than this, you can improve defensibility by keeping larger trees limbed up and shrubs free of dead, dry material.

 

Funding for this program was made possible by a grant from the Cooperative Fire Program of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Pacific Southwest Region, through California Fire Safe Council.

For more information about the program visit chipping.rcdsantacruz.org or call Matt Abernathy at 831.464.2950 x28

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