In my work at San Vicente Redwoods, I’ve learned that maintaining a healthy forest requires a delicate balance. An issue like overcrowding can spell disaster for some aspects of a forest’s health. When there’s too much plant life, it makes for a stressful environment for redwoods. Instead of thriving, the trees compete for water, sunlight and nutrients. To make matters worse, dense vegetation creates fertile conditions for dangerous and destructive wildfires. But before you dismiss the overabundant greenery as all bad, you should check in with the insects and birds. For these creatures, it offers much-needed shelter and food.
POST and our partners at San Vicente Redwoods — Sempervirens Fund, Save the Redwoods League and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County — prioritize conserving resources and habitat while also reducing dry matter that leads to megafires. That’s where shaded fuel breaks come in.
When a wildfire takes hold in a landscape, it spreads rapidly. To keep the forest healthy and nearby communities safe, we must take steps to reduce the spread of potential blazes and make way for firefighters. Shaded fuel breaks do just that. To make a shaded fuel break, we remove dense vegetation that amasses nearer to the forest floor while maintaining plenty of tree cover. Rather than splitting up habitat with a barren strip of land, the shade that remains when we create shaded fuel breaks can preserve homey qualities for insects, plants and animals.
Filmed on the ground in San Vicente Redwoods where this work is currently underway, this video breaks down the basics of shaded fuel breaks. Learn more about how they can prevent out-of-control wildfires while helping us reach our conservation goals.
This work is made possible in part by funding from the State Coastal Conservancy and CAL FIRE.
More than 80 miles of road ribbon throughout San Vicente Redwoods. Because of its history of keeping the community safe, the nine-mile Warrenella Road is an essential thoroughfare. In 2009, it provided an operations center for firefighters while suppressing the Lockheed Fire. Once the shaded fuel break is in place, this road will be even more effective for fire protection.
Here’s why CAL FIRE — the organization that helps protect our communities and wildlands from wildfires — identified Warrenella Road as a high-priority place to reduce fuel.
Part of what’s special about San Vicente Redwoods is the plethora of compatible land uses on one property. When you’re out on the trails, you just might see evidence of our ongoing projects related to forest resiliency.
If you’re hiking at San Vicente Redwoods, depending on when you visit, you might see some signs that these projects are in the works. Here’s what to expect.
It might sound counterintuitive to set fires in the redwoods on purpose. But using fire in time-tested, scientifically proven ways can increase biodiversity and slow the spread of wildfires.
Learn more about the virtues of intentional, low-intensity fires and how they can make for a more resilient forest.
At San Vicente Redwoods, we’re incredibly fortunate to work with three primary organizations and a host of other partners to carry out our conservation vision. Together, we view the forest as a “living laboratory” where we can learn from its response to our management efforts. We recognize that managing this landscape is vital. Located just north of Santa Cruz, this expansive and complex property impacts the well-being of our whole region. It provides clean air and water, a sanctuary for wildlife and carbon sequestration. And with the opening of 7.5 miles of trail last fall, it provides room to roam for residents and visitors alike!
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more