image-quarry park fire prevention
San Mateo County parks staff has been clearing around trails through Quarry Park in an effort to make the park less susceptible to ruinous wildfire. Photo courtesy Carla Schoof

A fuel reduction project in Quarry Park in El Granada started about a month ago, so we asked San Mateo County Parks Department arborist Dan Krug to answer some common questions about the project. (These answers have been lightly edited for clarity.)

Review: How long before the project needs to be repeated?

Krug: It’s kind of difficult to put a strict timeline on that. It depends on how aggressively the treated vegetation re-sprouts. Blue gum eucalyptus, which is the primary target for this fuel reduction treatment, sprouts very readily from stumps. We’re unsure how aggressively these trees will respond. ... It could be five years. It could be 10 years. For certain segments that get more sun exposure, it could be sooner than that. 

Review: In terms of routine maintenance, how often does the park need fuel reduction work? 

Krug: We’re going to have to approach Quarry Park with a more active fuel reduction management and maintenance. We do trail brushing regularly through the park. That pretty much sticks to a couple of feet off to the sides of the trails. Now that we have broader areas being cleared along the trails, it’ll be easier for us to maintain it with the equipment we have in the department.

It has a lot to do with budget, time, resources and staff. We are a limited staff agency. We do our best. 

Review: Is there extra work being done near houses that border Quarry Park? 

Krug: The idea behind focusing on the trails is to break Quarry Park up into more manageable sections in the event that there is wildfire. Quarry Park’s trail system is interesting in that it’s somewhat like a spider web, with a central hub and external network that radiates out, that provides a more easily managed segmentation for treatment areas. CalFire came up with the plan to work in Quarry Park as part of the governor’s emergency directive. 

There are some areas that will be focused on treatment near homes, specifically in the southern portion of the park near Coronado Avenue. ... Eventually treatment will get behind homes in El Granada. The reason for that is those homes are upslope from the rest of the park. Generally speaking, fires move uphill depending on the severity of winds. 

In theory, those homes would be more at risk, which is why the original fuel break was put in 10 or 12 years ago. That area will ideally be re-treated or have shaded fuel break installed from the existing fuel break.

ReviewHow will this project help emergency vehicle access?

Krug: There are the main trails that run from the main parking lot up to the quarry floor, up and around. 

These are pretty well maintained by parks staff and are wide enough to accommodate the most recent fire engines … But there are a number of secondary trails that run through the park that are essentially single track trails that can fit maybe two people walking side by side. Vehicle access is not possible. 

Review: How can the community get involved? 

Krug: We have friends groups in other parks that set up weed days and work with parks staff to develop those kinds of programs. … The possibility is there, but there has to be interest from the community — and consistent interest. 

Review: Is there anything else you want people to know? 

Krug: Be respectful of trail closures. 

Work is getting done through the park. You don’t necessarily hear the noise from the machines until you’re right up on it. The machines have the capacity to throw debris up to 200 feet. It is a dangerous situation to be walking through those areas.”  

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