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By: National Association of Conservation Districts

The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County got a jump start on a key piece of its forest health programs just a year after the worst fire on record in the county.

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The Resource Conservation District and the State of California are seeking bids for a Wetland Enhamncement Project located at Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Watsonville, CA. This project is part of a larger effort to address locally degraded wetlands for enhanced wetland function and amphibian recovery and improve landscape resilience to climate change and restore flood capacity. The project will improve approximately ~0.42 –acres of wetland extending the hydroperiod to allow successful breeding, movement, nesting, and foraging for a wide variety of wildlife species and is crucial for recovery of the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (SCLTS).

By: Hannah Hagemann | Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — Santa Cruz County residents looking to get their home ready for peak wildfire season can apply for the Resource Conservation District’s no-cost chipping program on Wednesday.

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Cuesta After 2The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County is thrilled to announce our Summer 2021 No-Cost Community Chipping Program. 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. Early bird registration started May 7th for residents in Santa Cruz County neighborhoods that have achieved, or are in the process of, FireWise USA recognition. Registration begins for ALL other eligible Santa Cruz County residents on May 12, 2021 at 6:00 AM.

With the limited rains we had this past winter, 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 no-cost chipping for residents who clear vegetation within 100 feet of occupied structures or 10 feet on either side of a private road. “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.

How does the program work?

Signups are first-come-first served by region and each household must complete a two-part registration process to be enrolled and confirmed into the program. Part one is an online pre-registration applicationto verify space is available, and part two is achipping scheduling formthat is completed once your materials are stacked and ready for chipping. A detailed schedule of areas served, deadlines for program applications, chipping dates and guidelines for preparing materials for chipping are posted on the RCD No-Cost Chipping Program web page.

fire break

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCDSCC) released a Draft Santa Cruz County Forest Health and Fire Resilience Public Works Plan (PWP) for public review and comment on April 28, 2021.

pdfView the Santa Cruz County Forest Health and Fire Resilience Public Works Plan (PWP) public draft by clicking here.

docxPWP final 061621 changes tracked (MS Word)

pdfPWP final 061621

 

The goal of the RCDSCC PWP is to meet the need for programmatic permitting for high-priority forest health and fuels management projects to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and improve ecological conditions for forests, woodlands, and grasslands within the coastal zone. The PWP provides a planning framework to efficiently review and authorize vegetation management projects within the Program Area over the next ten years using principles, strategies, and best management practices that align fire prevention planning with the protection of coastal resources. This draft PWP is the result of a coordinated planning process of the RCDSCC and San Mateo RCD, in collaboration with State Parks, Cal FIRE, CA Coastal Commission, and staff of the planning departments of Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties. A parallel Draft PWP is under development to serve the need in San Mateo County.

Date of Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County Public Noticing: April 28, 2021
pdfView the complete RCD public notice by clicking here.

Date of California Coastal Commission Public Noticing: June 25, 2021
pdfView the complete Coastal Commission public notice by clicking here.


Date of Public Hearing: The RCDSCC will host a public hearing on the draft PWP at the RCDSCC Board of Directors Meeting June 9, 2021 at 6:30 PM
Location: Web https://zoom.us/j/708386048?pwd=bm5RWklIbEIvbEQ0K0ZWdTFmMENQQT09

Or Phone 1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 708-386-048, Meeting Password: 599600

The meeting agenda will be posted at least 10 days prior to the hearing, and can be found on the RCDSCC’s website here: www.rcdsantacruz.org/board-meeting-docs

Questions and comments regarding the Draft Santa Cruz County Forest Health and Fire Resilience Public Works Plan can be directed to the RCDSCC at or 831-464-2950.

Written comments are due by midnight on June 8th. Oral comments will continue to be received at the June 9th hearing.

 

pdfDownload comments that were received through the public comment period of June 9th.

pdfResponse to comments

 

Click here to view public comments submitted to the San Mateo PWP.


About Public Works Plans (PWP): A PWP is a land use planning document that plans for and sets a framework for implementing a specific public works project or array of public works-related activities. A PWP provides a land use planning alternative to Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) for obtaining approval of large or phased public works projects, as well as any development proposed by a special district, and remains under the authority of the Coastal Commission irrespective of coastal permit jurisdictional boundaries. A PWP is an alternative to project-by-project review for public works, which would otherwise require multiple coastal development permits for different components of the public works project. For more information contact the Coastal Commission at

 

pdfBoard Hearing Power Point Presentation

 

The RCD seeks an Agricultural Technical Specialist to join a dynamic team of conservation and agriculture professionals. The Agricultural Technical Specialist will work closely with RCD Agricultural Program staff and with outside partners including University of California Cooperative Extension and the NRCS to provide irrigation water management assistance to agricultural water users in Santa Cruz County, primarily the Pajaro Valley. The Agricultural Technical Specialist will provide growers and irrigators with education, technical assistance, tools and information to evaluate and improve water use efficiency on farms, and will report on program outcomes to funders and stakeholders. They will also apply their skills with irrigation water management to help growers improve nutrient use efficiency, and assist with erosion control and conservation planning on farms. Most of the work is in the Pajaro Valley, where an over $600 million agriculture industry is heavily dependent on an overdrafted groundwater basin. Watersheds in the region drain into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and many surface waters are impaired for pollutants such as sediment, nutrients and pesticides. This position supports agriculture’s efforts to reduce groundwater pumping on a basin-wide scale, and protect our watersheds.

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