This is the second in a series of stories about the state of the Coastside’s efforts to prepare for a disaster or other emergency. Today is the six-month anniversary of the Camp Fire. This also happens to be Wildfire Preparedness Week, as proclaimed by CalFire.
It’s been decades since there was a significant wildfire on the Midcoast, but experts say that is perhaps the most likely disaster to befall the San Mateo County Coastside.
To ease such risk, the state has begun forest management practices that include the removal of vegetation and fighting fire with fire in the form of prescribed burns.
On March 22, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation that directed CalFire to act immediately on priority projects to reduce public safety risk for wildfires in vulnerable communities.
Those include some parts of the Coastside. As a result, CalFire issued a report identifying 35 projects that could be completed within a year.
All the projects were eligible to allow the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency discretion to suspend environmental permitting requirements on a case-by-case basis. That allows work on priority projects to take place immediately. For example, the state agencies can suspend requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act that might make work more onerous.
Areas of Kings Mountain Road, west of Woodside, and El Granada’s Quarry Park were included in the projects identified. Crews have begun to re-establish fuel breaks — areas cleared of vegetation — within eucalyptus stands surrounding more densely populated communities in Half Moon Bay, El Granada and Miramar.
“Discussions with other agencies have indicated that a transition of vegetation from the monoculture resulting from a 100-year-old eucalyptus stand over to a diverse native stand would be more beneficial for both wildlife habitat and fire resiliency,” the California Natural Resources Agency report states.
There have been frequent small fires within the eucalyptus stand over the past two decades.
However, new vegetation growth has encroached upon the road system.
The project will involves cutting all eucalyptus and pine within certain areas as well as any larger trees that are dead or unhealthy. Quarry Park is approximately 517 acres with both eucalyptus and Monterey pine planted in the early 1900s. The area has been impacted by drought, and an estimated 25 percent of the trees are dead or dying, according to the report.
The 70-acre Kings Mountain Road project would benefit firefighters and the community in the event of a fire. It is designed to provide a useable escape route and access for emergency responders in the steep terrain. The project will clear away dead trees and brush, according to the report.
To view all the statewide projects, visit resources.ca.gov/community-wildfire-prevention.