Tubbs Fire, Glass Fire, Kincade Fire, Mendocino Complex Fires, Burris Fire, Nuns Fire, Sulphur Fire, Redwood Complex Fire...the list grows as more dangerous wildfires hit the north coast. The largest wildfire in California's history (2020 August Complex) happened in our region. In 2017, the destructive Tubbs Fire of Sonoma County devastated portions of Santa Rosa and was one of more than a dozen large fires that broke out in early October 2017, which were simultaneously burning in eight Northern California counties. it was called the "Northern California firestorm." Until surpassed by the Camp Fire a year later, the Tubbs fire was the most destructive in California history.
History making fires are happening every year as our communities face unprecedented evacuations, planned power outages, and fear. Being prepared and taking steps to reduce risk are only some of the tools that Conservation Works helps to deploy.
We recently partnered with Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District to assist in working with a Sonoma County Community in implementing the Camp Meeker Fire Prevention Planning and Community Engagement Project. In 2019, Gold Ridge RCD and Conservation Works received funding to create a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). The Community Wildfire Protection Plan is a collaborative effort that requires input from all stakeholders, including Camp Meeker residents, local businesses, retreat camps and the relevant fire and natural resources agencies. Community meetings helped gather information about Camp Meeker's vulnerabilities to wildfire and then prioritize projects that have earned the greatest stakeholder interest. The Camp Meeker CWPP has been completed in 2021!
Residents can "take action" to help themselves become more fire-safe in our forested communities. Check out the detailed giuidance at the National Fire Protection Association that recommends you assess your home in three zones: 0-5 feet from your foundation, 5-30 feet from your foundation, and 30-100 feet from your foundation:
CLOSE 0-5 FEET ZONE
- Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
- Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
- Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8 inch metal mesh screening.
- Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
- Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
- Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn. Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.
INTERMEDIATE 5-30 FEET ZONE
- Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
- Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios, and decks.
- Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
- Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns. Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
- Space trees to have a minimum of eighteen feet between crowns with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
- Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.
- Tree and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.
EXTENDED 30-100 FEET ZONE
- Dispose of heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris.
- Remove dead plant and tree material.
- Remove small conifers growing between mature trees.
- Remove vegetation adjacent to storage sheds or other outbuildings within this area.
- Trees 30 to 60 feet from the home should have at least 12 feet between canopy tops.
- Trees 60 to 100 feet from the home should have at least 6 feet between the canopy tops.