Thursday, 20 July 2023

Applications Opening July 25th for the RCD Chipping Reimbursement Program to Help Neighborhoods Prepare for Wildfire

news 2022 02The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County is offering neighborhoods with eight or more participating households a reimbursement 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 “Wildland Urban Interface” areas -- that may potentially be impacted by wildfire.

Register HERE for an informational webinar to be held on Monday, July 24 at 6:00 PM.

Applications open for FireWise USA Communities July 25, 2023 and for all other eligible neighborhoods on August 1st. Last day to submit reimbursement forms is October 31, 2023.

A neighborhood representative should sign up HERE to reserve funds. The program is first-come-first-served.

Intense storms this past winter season resulted in a large amount of blow down and debris in defensible space zones across the county. 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 $80/500 linear feet 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, Senior Program Specialist for the RCD’s Forest Health team. “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 the fire-prone late summer and early fall, is imperative to avoid major damage 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 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 and the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County.

For more information email or call Laurel Bard at (831) 205-4486

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