SOLVANG, Calif.— Los Padres National Forest officials announced that initial work has begun on the Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement project on the Monterey Ranger District. The purpose of the project is to re-establish and maintain a series of fuelbreaks to enhance protection for at-risk communities and firefighters, preserve wilderness character, and reduce suppression costs. These historically used and effective strategic fuelbreaks extend in and out of the Ventana Wilderness.
The funding for this project comes from a Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration grant award, a collaborative partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to invest in restoration efforts to mitigate wildfire risk through thinning, hazardous fuels treatments, and fuelbreak implementation.
The first phase of project work is occurring along North Coast Ridge Road where 158 acres are being treated using hand tools and chainsaws to cut and pile dead and decadent vegetation. These piles will later be burned by fire crews during cold and wet winter months to reduce the fuel load on the forest floor.
This project resulted from collaborative engagement at the community level and is intended to improve effectiveness and efficiency in protecting communities from wildfire. The project will also minimize future impacts to wilderness by maintaining fuelbreaks prior to a wildfire when bulldozers are often deployed for emergency suppression. By proactively designing and establishing strategic fuelbreaks during a non-emergency environment, the Forest Service can reduce the reliance on mechanized equipment and subsequently reduce the adverse fire suppression impacts on the wilderness landscape.
“Fuelbreaks and thinning work are absolutely essential to better protecting our firefighters, communities and forest health in the face of a changing climate,” said Monterey District Ranger Tim Short.
As additional funding becomes available, other sections of the Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement project will be implemented on the Monterey Ranger District.