Early-bird registration opens July 25th for FireWise USA communities, and all other eligible neighborhoods can submit applications beginning August 1st. All chipping must be completed by October 30, 2022 and a neighborhood representative should sign up to reserve funds HERE. The program is first-come-first-served.
With the limited rains over the past few winters, Santa Cruz County continues to experience greater than normal wildfire risk due to extra dry conditions. This program incentivizes the creation of defensible space around homes and private roads in high wildfire risk areas by offering communities with a minimum of eight participating households up to $250 per property and $1/linear foot of road. 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 and roads,” explained Matt Abernathy, who manages the chipping program for the RCD. “We hope that by offsetting some of the cost more people will be able to reduce wildfire risk 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 is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Fire Prevention Program as part of the California Climate Investments Program.For more information email our chipping program coordinator Matt Aberanthy.