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Fire District's Vegetation Management Program Begins July 1

Post Date:05/24/2019 1:50 PM

On July 1, the Southern Marin Fire Protection District will begin the first year of a new Vegetation Management Program with an annual budget of $460,000. The program is funded with proceeds from Measure U, a $200 parcel tax approved by voters in November 2018 to improve local emergency services.

The goal of the Vegetation Management Program is to reduce the amount of fuel available to a wildfire. By removing dead and excess vegetation, the likelihood of a catastrophic fire is significantly diminished. A similar program in Mill Valley removes between 300 and 600 tons of vegetation per year.

The Southern Marin Fire Protection District consists of four zones: the City of Sausalito, Tam Valley, Homestead, and Strawberry. Under the Vegetation Management Program, fuel reduction work will be performed on a rotating basis in one zone per month. Sausalito is the only incorporated jurisdiction within the district; the other three zones are administered by Marin County.

Fuel reduction initiatives include the following:
  • Road Clearing. Road clearing consists of trimming tree branches over roadways, clearing vegetation around fire hydrants, and removing ladder fuels and encroaching vegetation from roadsides and sidewalks. Prior to clearing, an informational letter will be mailed to affected residents.
  • Tree Removal. Tree removals occur on open space parcels and along rights of way. Trees will be marked because they are dead or dying, encroach on roadways, or pose a fall or fire hazard to overhead power lines or private property. Due to the flammability characteristics of eucalyptus trees, priority will be given for their removal. 
  • Chipper Programs. Small- and large-scale chipper programs will be offered under the Vegetation Management Program. Small-scale chipper projects require at least three households to participate. Residents call or email the district with a date they would like to have the chipper crew come to their neighborhood. Large-scale chipper projects involve making the chipper available to groups of streets on a rotating schedule. 
  • Fuel Breaks. The district will partner with landowners such as the National Park Service and state and county parks in the creation of wide-area fuel breaks. The primary benefit of this project is the removal of highly flammable vegetation. A secondary benefit is the restoration of native plant species that predate the arrival of invasive plants like scotch broom and acacia.
  • Fuel Reduction on City/County Land. The City of Sausalito and Marin County own many parcels that require vegetation management. Fuel reduction work on these parcels will reduce the fire threat to adjacent homeowners.
Other programs funded by Measure U will include public education initiatives, striping projects to ensure that street parking does not interfere with the passage of emergency vehicles, and evacuation drills. The first evacuation drill in Sausalito is scheduled for July 27, 2019, for residents of the north end of Sausalito. Notices about the drill will be mailed to all residents in the evacuation zone in advance of July 27, and information will also be available in Sausalito Currents and on the City website.

Any questions about the Vegetation Management Program or any of the initiatives within the program may be directed to Battalion Chief Scott Barnes at
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