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National Park Service Provides Grants for Four More Projects to Assist Communities with Wildland Fire Protection

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Date: July 2, 2003
Contact: Jennifer Chapman, 415-464-5133

The National Park Service announced today that four additional community partnership projects will be funded this fiscal year to achieve greater wildland fire protection in the vicinity of Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The new projects, totalling $145,000, include three fuel breaks and a community fuels treatment program:

  • Gravity Car Road Fuel Break, $30,000, on the boundary of the Marin Municipal Water District, protecting homes in Mill Valley
  • Cascade Canyon Fuel Break, $45,000, in the Marin Open Space District, protecting homes in Fairfax
  • Kent Woodlands Fuel Break, $50,000, protecting homes near Mt. Tamlpais
  • Nicasio Ladder Fuels / Defensible Space Treatment, $20,000, protecting homes in Nicasio

Federal funding for these projects is provided through the Wildland-Urban Interface Community Assistance program, a component of the National Fire Plan. Combined with the two previous years, over $2.1 million dollars has been allocated for wildland fire protection in communities located near national parklands in Marin County. The National Fire Plan focuses on reducing hazardous fuels in places where fuel accumulation threatens communities and wildlands with increased potential for wildfire.

The community organizations involved in the development of these projects include: Marin County Fire Department, Nicasio Volunteer Fire Department, Nicasio Landowners’ Association, Kent Woodlands Property Owners’ Association, Marin Municipal Water District, Marin Open Space District, Ross Valley Fire Department, the residents of Cascade Canyon and the City of Mill Valley.

Administration of the projects is accomplished through a cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and FIRESafe MARIN, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing wildland fire hazards and improving fire safety awareness in Marin County, California.

These projects involve removal and disposal of vegetation to reduce hazardous fuels in strategic locations. This involves brush clearance, trimming branches, and in some cases removing trees. Contracts for the work completed through this program have been awarded to local businesses and conservation organizations.

Regarding the recent funding allocation, Ken Massucco, Chief of Marin County Fire Department says, “We’ve been planning these projects for about 10 years. It’s great to see them get funded. We have serious hazardous fuel loads in this county, but the costs of mitigation are beyond our budget.”

Don Neubacher, Superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore, stated, “This program is definitely improving fire prevention and protection in Marin County. With the growing population around our parks and open space, a strong inter-agency fire and fuels management program is essential. The upcoming fire season is predicted to be severe, so these funds are extremely timely.”

The Gravity Car Fuel Break will create a fuels management zone along a key section of the wildland-urban interface on Marin Municipal Water District’s Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. This fuel break, treating approximately 10 acres along roadsides, is part of a larger fuel reduction zone on the wildland perimeter of Mill Valley.

The Cascade Canyon fuel break will be constructed along existing fire roads to protect homes surrounding opens space lands, to reduce fire hazards on public land, and to improve the safety of fire suppression operations. Understory shrubs will be cleared, trees will be limbed up, and dead trees and other heavy fuels near roads will be removed.

The Kent Woodlands fuel break will provide a fire protection zone along the wildland-urban interface of Kent Woodlands. The fuel break will provide fire department access to critical areas for fire suppression; clear safety zones for fire personnel and staging fire equipment; protect access to water supplies; slow fire spread and improve opportunities for offensive attack; protect evacuation routes for residents and recreationalists; and provide defensible space for structure protection.

The community fuels treatment program in Nicasio will involve pick-up, hauling and chipping of vegetation debris generated through homeowner’s defensible space projects and non-native plant abatement, which reduces fuel loading. It will provide a temporary transfer site and chipping program to enable easy disposal of vegetation debris and transfer chipped material to a disposal site for recycling.

Continued funding for the National Fire Plan this fiscal year is in part due to last summer’s exceptionally long fire season, which demonstrated the critical need for fuel treatments in the wildland-urban interface. Last year, over 3,000 structures were lost to wildland fire throughout the United States, including over 1,400 homes.

-NPS-

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