Wildland Fire: Mastication Increases Efficiency of Fire Road Maintenance

An excavator digs off the side of a dirt road/trail
An excavator removes vegetation along the Bayview Fire Road.

NPS / J. Chapman

During February 2012, an excavator mounted with a mastication drum treated a 1.3-mile segment of the Bayview Fire Road, which is part of the Inverness Ridge Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The fire road extends from the Bayview parking lot off Limantour Road to the edge of a residential area at Sunnyside Road. All vegetation within 15 to 25 feet of each side of the fire road was mulched. The width of the treatment was increased in areas where the slope was steeper. This technique accomplished in a few weeks what would have taken months for a 10-person crew to achieve, making it highly cost effective. Efficient use of time also addressed constraints on the work season due to bird nesting. Surveys done prior to implementation ensured that no rare plants would be affected by the work.

A dirt fire road cuts up a wooded slope.
Fire road clearance improves a critical evacuation route for residents living adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore.

NPS / J. Chapman

This fire road mastication project continues the development of the Inverness Ridge Fuel Break, which is designed to improve emergency access and egress during a wildfire. This fuel break includes the Bayview Fire Road, which is a critical evacuation route for hundreds of residents on Inverness Ridge. Fuel reduction along this corridor will also enhance its use as a control line in fire suppression operations.

The mastication treatment adjoins another treatment along Limantour Road where the emergency access and egress route continues. This corridor was identified as a priority treatment in a community wildfire protection plan after a wildfire burned 43 homes on Inverness Ridge in 1995.

Contact: Jennifer Chapman, fire communication and education specialist
Email: e-mail us
Phone: (415) 464-5133

Last updated: January 27, 2017