Open Space Projects DRAFT DRAFT

Thanks to your Measure C tax dollars the City is expanding our efforts to reduce wildfire risk in Open Space. We have a variety of projects underway and planned. This page offers a summary of those projects, with specific project information shared as the work gets underway.  

In general, our open space fuel reduction work focuses on:  

  • Creating and enhancing defensible space up to 100 feet from structures and 50 feet from roadways 
  • Removal of all dead and down plant materials 
  • Removal of Combustible vegetation including French and Scotch broom 
  • Raising of tree canopies and removal of ladder fuels 

All of our projects go through an extensive environmental review process to limit the impact on our natural environment and ensure compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Depending on the project this may include, but not be limited to: 

  • Nesting Bird Surveys 
    • Identification and avoidance of sensitive plant and wildlife species 
    • Identification and avoidance of sensitive natural resources including streams and wetlands 

Vegetation Management Project Types

Vegetation Management projects for wildfire mitigation come in many forms but all have the same objective of modifying or reducing the fuel load of an area with the intent of changing wildfire behavior. The primary types of fuel reduction projects conducted in San Rafael are shaded fuel breaks, goat grazing and mowing, evacuation route vegetation clearances, and fire road vegetation clearances.  

Evacuation route clearance has been focused primarily on hillside neighborhoods with terraced or narrow roads. During an emergency, these roads need to be open and clear of vegetation along the road edge to help facilitate safe evacuation and egress for emergency response.

Fire road vegetation clearance helps keep fire roads throughout San Rafael open and passable for emergency response vehicles in the event of a wildfire. Fuel reduction along these roads consists of creating shaded and unshaded fuel breaks of the road edges, up to 50 feet in some areas. Many of the fire roads in San Rafael travel through State Parks or Marin County Open Space, and the City is working with our neighbors to develop fuel reduction plans for roads that pass through other land ownerships. In addition to creating safe access for emergency response vehicles, fuel breaks along fire roads help expand zones of modified and reduced fuel across the landscape that may help to slow the spread of wildfire towards the community.

Goat grazing and mowing remove light and flashy fuels in grassland or lightly wooded areas. These unshaded and shaded fuel breaks help slow the spread of wildfire and will be seen primarily in the defensible space zone that extends 100’-150’ from homes or infrastructure into open space areas. Goats arrive in San Rafael and Marinwood in late spring as the grass begins to dry out and can be seen through City open space typically in the months of May, June, or July.

A shaded fuel break consists of removing or modifying the vegetation in the understory of a wooded or forested area while retaining a large portion of the canopy. These projects will focus on removing light flashy fuels like grass, shrubs, invasive species like broom, and lower limbs of trees to reduce ladder fuels and create vertical spacing between the ground and the tree crowns. Reducing the continuity of vegetation from the ground to the canopy to help keep wildfire. Small trees may be removed as well to create horizontal spacing between larger tree trunks and open growing space for larger trees. Shaded fuel breaks will be seen primarily in the defensible space zone that extends 100’-150’ from homes or infrastructure into open space areas. Shaded fuel break work occurs year-round.


Vegetation Management Project

Vegetation Management Interactive Map

The City of San Rafael has created this interactive web map as a free interactive community resource that will continue to expand as time and data allows.

To view this map in a full screen, please click here.

Vegmap Arcgis

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