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Shaded fuel break planned for Sonoma Valley Regional Park

In an effort to improve forest health, promote park resiliency, and mitigate the severity of future wildfires, Sonoma County Wildlands Collaborative will implement a program to construct a “shaded fuel break” inside the Sonoma Valley Regional Park. The half-mile long break will parallel the dozer line cut by Cal Fire in 2017, and will begin near the northwest boundary of the park’s Carmel Avenue entrance and the town of Glen Ellen. Construction is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Nov. 11.

A shaded fuel break—unlike a fire break, which clears all vegetation—can slow the spread of wildfire by retaining larger trees to provide shade and animal habitat but clearing vegetation near the ground and smaller trees, which can act like flammable ladders into a forest’s canopy.

Mature trees with trunks more than six inches in diameter will remain untouched, as well as some trees with trunks smaller than six inches, to allow for second-generation growth and succession.

The new fuel break will be located mostly in a remote area of the park not accessible to the public, though trekkers may hear chainsaws and other gas-powered equipment in use between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the seven-day interval outlined on the project’s timeline. Work is scheduled for completion on Nov. 18, in advance of nesting bird season, which begins in February.

A shaded break—unlike a fire break, which clears all vegetation—can slow the spread of wildfire by retaining larger trees to provide shade and animal habitat but clearing vegetation near the ground and smaller trees, which can act like flammable ladders into a forest’s canopy.

The project is one of several being implemented this year by the Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative, a group of six private organizations and public agencies that own and manage land in the Sonoma Valley, of which Sonoma County Regional Parks is a member. The collaborative is working with Cal Fire on strategic fuel reduction and vegetation management projects across Sonoma Valley to protect the community and improve ecosystem health.

The work is funded though a grant for Cal Fire’s Fire Prevention Grant Program and is part of the statewide California Climate Investments Program.

Updates on all Sonoma Valley Projects will be posted on the collaborative’s website at svwildlandscollaborative.com.

For more information on Sonoma County Regional Park’s role in wildfire prevention and fuels management, visit parks.sonomacaounty.ca.gov/Learn/Natural-Resources.

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