FIRESafe MARIN News

Wildfire Safety Blog and News from FIRESafe MARIN.

UC Master Gardener Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - January

Time to Prune! 

Here’s a fire-smart landscaping tip from U C Marin Master Gardeners. Reduce fuel load by pruning. Winter is a good time, especially for dormant or deciduous trees and shrubs.
Prune after the leaves drop and before the buds form.
Remember the 3 D’s: dead, damaged and diseased parts should be removed. 
Prune dead and twiggy overgrown shrubs like lavender
Remove tree branches at least6 feet from the ground orup to 1/3 of their height
Remove any limbs 10 feet from the chimney or roof and maintain separation between trees or groups of trees
Avoid topping trees and shearing hedges as this causes weak and twiggy growth and more fuel for a fire. 
Make your garden fire-smart by removing dead material and maintaining separation between your plants.  For more information on how and why to prune and specific plant requirements visit http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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2020 Chipper Program Report

Impacts and insights from our most ambitious program to date. Please view the 2020 Chipper Program Report. Recently published.

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UC Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - December

Plan your fire-smart garden. Consider the existing plants, budget, and how much maintenance you are willing to do. Start by understanding the defensible space zones.

  • Zone 0: 0 – 5 feet from the house is the most important. Minimize combustible materials and vegetation and separate plants with non-combustible materials.
  • Zone 1: 5- 30 feet from the house separate plantings and garden beds with hardscape and groundcovers to slow the spread of flames.
  • Zone 2: 30 to 100 feet from the house can use larger shrubs and trees planted in widely spaced groups or “islands”. Consider the mature size of plants and shrubs to maintain spaces.

The U C Marin Master Gardener website can help choose the right plants for the right place for a healthy and fire-smart garden.  For more information go to http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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UC Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - November

Plant Spacing in the Defensible Landscape.

A fire-smart gardening tip from UC Marin Master Gardeners. Space trees and shrubs in your garden to minimize the transmission of fire from one plant to another and ultimately your house.

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UC Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - October

-Right Plant, Right Place

U C Marin Master Gardeners always say to plant the “right plant in the right place” as a formula for success. In a fire-smart landscape there are no fire-resistant plants, since all plants can burn. Plants should be water wise and ecologically sound, well maintained and in good health. Add proper irrigation and maintenance, and keep them free of dead material and fallen leaves.

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UC Marin Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - September

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Maintaining a Fire-Smart Landscape

Fall is a great time to do fire-smart maintenance. Here are some tips from UC Marin Master Gardeners:

  • Check gutters, roof, eaves, vents, and chimney for leaf and needle litter.
  • Remember to clear branches 10 feet from the roof.
  • Beyond 5 feet from all structures, apply composted wood mulch chips to feed the soil, control weeds in the spring, control soil erosion and enhance the appearance of your garden.
  • Separate wood mulched areas with noncombustible materials such as granite, gravel and stone to create fuel breaks, discouraging fire from traveling along a continuous path.
  • Rake-up and compost or remove fallen leaves and evergreen needles. The spots where leaves collect are where embers ignite a fire.
  • Remove dead vegetation and dry grasses.
  • Prune or remove plants to eliminate fuel ladders and to separate shrubs.

 Questions about creating a fire-smart landscape? Visit http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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Climate, Environment and Wildfire Coalition

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As wildfires surged in 2017 and 2018 those of us in the climate and environmental community focused on the connection between wildfires and climate change. We noticed heat waves, melting snow earlier in the spring, alarming rise in state’s average temperature, and prolonged drought. Scientists agree that climate change has increased the length of the season and the frequency of extreme weather events. 

A leading climate scientist at University of California, Merced, estimated that the frequency of extreme wildfires would increase by nearly 50 percent if global greenhouse gas emissions continued at a high rate. At the same time other environmental organizations were raising concerns about the impact of wildfires on biodiversity and the ecology of Marin’s vegetation landscape.

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Biomass Recovery Study

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A working group of the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority/Ecologically Sound Practices Partnership has started a Biomass Recovery study, working in concert with resource haulers and processors, to identify responsible ways to manage the increased amounts of organic material being generated by both wildfire prevention activities and curbside collection programs. The Biomass Recovery study is based on the solution/proposal endorsed by Drawdown: Marin, a county-wide campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically and prepare the County for climate change impacts.

With the passage of Measure C and formation of the MWPA we are anticipating considerable growth in biomass generation. PG&E wildfire prevention plans call for hugely expanded tree trimmings and removal. Landowners costs for vegetation management are mushrooming.  Options are limited or unknown. The costs of transporting the woody biomass are substantial and the systems for handling are burdened.

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UC Marin Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip

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Water Wise and Fire-Smart. 

Water is a precious resource in our drought prone climate. So, water wisely and make your garden fire-smart. Here’s what you can do:

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Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority Update

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The Marin Wildfire Protection Agency Authority (MWPA) was created with the passage of Proposition C on March 3, 2020.  The Agency MWPA is a Joint Powers Authority composed of 17 taxing authorities that represent all of  Marin with the exception of Belvedere and Tiburon.  The MWPA was formed to develop and implement a comprehensive wildfire prevention, education,  and emergency preparedness plan throughout most of Marin County. Key elements of this program include: fuel reduction; improved wildfire detection, warnings and evacuation routes; low income grants; public education; defensible space evaluations; and local wildfire mitigation.

The MWPA organizational structure includes three tiers.  The Board of Directors is composed of one elected official from each of the 17 Agencies, the Operations Committee is made up of a combination of fire officials and town managers from the Agencies and the Technical Advisory Committee has Agency representation plus a variety of stakeholders such as FIRESafe MARIN, environmental organizations, Marin County Open Space District, Marin Municipal Water District and others.  An important advisory group is the Ecologically Sound Practices Partnership which is a collaboration between the fire authorities and climate and environmental organizations to mitigate the risk of wildfires wisely. The coalition works as advisors to the fire professionals, defining best environmental practices to guide the implementation of the wildfire prevention plans and offering expertise and recommendations on specific projects.

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