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FIRESafe MARIN News

Wildfire Safety Blog and News from FIRESafe MARIN.

Fire-smart Landscaping Tip: Mindfully Mulch

Mindfully Mulch with Wildfire Preparedness in Mind

UC Marin Master Gardeners like the mantra, mulch, mulch, mulch.  Adding wood mulch to your landscape helps to improve soil structure and fertility.  In a fire-smart landscape, it’s important to take precautions when using mulch.  Please follow these guidelines to create defensible space around your home:

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UC Marin Master Gardener Tip: June

Fire-smart Landscaping Tip: Clean-up and Spruce-up

It’s time to clean-up and spruce-up.  By eliminating or moving combustible items surrounding your home, you can take the first step towards making your landscape fire-smart.  Grab a bucket, a broom and a hand pruner and start these easy-to-do maintenance tasks today:

  • Clean-up areas where wind eddies deposit leaf and plant litter along the perimeter of your home.  
  • Clear dead debris from flower beds close to the home.
  • Rake up wood mulch within 5 feet of the home and move it to another location in your garden.
  • Trim dead, damaged and diseased branches and dispose of the material in your green waste bin.
  • Move common combustible fire hazards away from the area immediately surrounding your home including brooms, rakes, plastic waste bins, wood furniture, furniture cushions, wood piles, and natural fiber door mats. Move these items as far away from your house as possible – or indoors if a nearby wildfire threatens.

For more information on fire-smart landscaping, visit UC Marin Master Gardeners at http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/BASICS/FIRESMARTLANDSCAPING/

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Coming soon! UC MMG Fire-Smart Landscaping Presentation(s)

UC Marin Master Gardeners in partnership with Marin Free Library is hosting three Fire-smart landscaping (online) presentations, June 11, 12, and 17. 

Program: Learn about best practices and recommendations for adapting fire-smart considerations and actions into your landscape. These practices will result in a healthy, aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly landscape while implementing defensible space around your home.

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Bronze Shoe of Wildfire Prevention

FIRESafe MARIN’s first Bronze Shoe of Wildfire Prevention was awarded on Friday, May 21 to MWPA Wildfire Hazard Evaluators Rob Lazarus, Heather Hill, Juan Castro (not pictured) for their efforts in Inverness during the Woodward fire in 2020. Marin County Fire Department credits the homeowner’s subsequent wildfire mitigation efforts with preventing a structure fire from spreading to nearby wildland vegetation. Congratulations to Rob and Heather on a well deserved, if slightly smelly, award. Wildfire prevention work often goes unrewarded and unrecognized, even though those in the fire service know well that an ounce of wildfire prevention is TRULY worth a pound of suppression.

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FIRESafe Challenge: 7 Days to a Fire Safe Home.

May 1, 2021 is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day - a national campaign that encourages people and organizations everywhere to come together to take action to raise awareness and reduce wildfire risks.  With California facing an extremely hot, dry and prolonged fire season, now is the time to get ready.

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UC Marin Master Gardener Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - May

Maintain Plants Along Home Exit Routes

 
Remove climbing vines and wood planters near windows and doors.

May is a good month to observe the health of plantings along the exit routes from your home to your vehicle. Exits may be through doors or windows and along a path to a vehicle parked on a street, a detached garage, or a meeting place with neighbors. Embers can ignite combustible material along your exit route, possibly preventing you from exiting your home or a fire fighter from entering.

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UC Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - April

The Fire-Smart Sanctuary
Create a fire-smart sanctuary. By using sustainable and earth friendly garden practices, your garden can be a place for pollinators and insects to travel through, making it a pollinator corridor.  

   

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UC Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - March

Think Lean, Clean, and Green     

Here’s a fire-smart landscaping tip from UC Marin Master Gardeners.  Spring is the time to make your garden lean, clean, and green, and create a well maintained and defensible space around your property.  

  1. Lean:  Keep plants thinned, pruned, and low growing. Have space between individual plants, or plant in small, irregular clusters or islands. Space trees so that at maturity the crowns are 10 feet apart or more.
  2. Clean:  Remove fallen leaves and needles, dried grass, weeds, dead branches, and other dead vegetation. Check gutters, roof, eaves, vents and chimney for leaf and needle litter. Rake fallen leaves, then compost or remove.
  3. Green:  Properly irrigated plants remain healthy and green summer through fall. Check your irrigation system regularly for leaks or malfunctions. 

Before each fire season, re-evaluate your lean, clean and green landscape. For more information on fire-smart landscaping see:  http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - February

Right Tree, Right Place.

A fire-smart landscape can have many types of trees. Remember the design of defensible spaces in your garden. Plan ahead. Space trees so that at maturity the canopies will have 10 feet of clearance from the roof and chimney. 

  • Trees shade, cool, clean the air, sequester carbon, and support wildlife for an earth-friendly garden.
  • Trees offer privacy, edible fruit, noise reduction, colorful flowers, and seasonal foliage.
  • Select a tree adapted to your climate zone and your garden conditions.
  • Consider maintenance. Evergreen trees produce fallen leaves and debris year-round. Deciduous or fruiting trees drop leaves or fruit annually.
  • Thin trees so that the branches between trees or groupings of trees do not touch and have at least 10 ft. separation between groups of trees.

Questions about choosing and placing the right tree to create a fire-smart landscape?  Visit http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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UC Master Gardener Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - January

Time to Prune! 

Here’s a fire-smart landscaping tip from U C Marin Master Gardeners. Reduce fuel load by pruning. Winter is a good time, especially for dormant or deciduous trees and shrubs.
Prune after the leaves drop and before the buds form.
Remember the 3 D’s: dead, damaged and diseased parts should be removed. 
Prune dead and twiggy overgrown shrubs like lavender
Remove tree branches at least6 feet from the ground orup to 1/3 of their height
Remove any limbs 10 feet from the chimney or roof and maintain separation between trees or groups of trees
Avoid topping trees and shearing hedges as this causes weak and twiggy growth and more fuel for a fire. 
Make your garden fire-smart by removing dead material and maintaining separation between your plants.  For more information on how and why to prune and specific plant requirements visit http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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2020 Chipper Program Report

Impacts and insights from our most ambitious program to date. Please view the 2020 Chipper Program Report. Recently published.

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UC Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - December

Plan your fire-smart garden. Consider the existing plants, budget, and how much maintenance you are willing to do. Start by understanding the defensible space zones.

  • Zone 0: 0 – 5 feet from the house is the most important. Minimize combustible materials and vegetation and separate plants with non-combustible materials.
  • Zone 1: 5- 30 feet from the house separate plantings and garden beds with hardscape and groundcovers to slow the spread of flames.
  • Zone 2: 30 to 100 feet from the house can use larger shrubs and trees planted in widely spaced groups or “islands”. Consider the mature size of plants and shrubs to maintain spaces.

The U C Marin Master Gardener website can help choose the right plants for the right place for a healthy and fire-smart garden.  For more information go to http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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UC Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - November

Plant Spacing in the Defensible Landscape.

A fire-smart gardening tip from UC Marin Master Gardeners. Space trees and shrubs in your garden to minimize the transmission of fire from one plant to another and ultimately your house.

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UC Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - October

-Right Plant, Right Place

U C Marin Master Gardeners always say to plant the “right plant in the right place” as a formula for success. In a fire-smart landscape there are no fire-resistant plants, since all plants can burn. Plants should be water wise and ecologically sound, well maintained and in good health. Add proper irrigation and maintenance, and keep them free of dead material and fallen leaves.

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UC Marin Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip - September

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Maintaining a Fire-Smart Landscape

Fall is a great time to do fire-smart maintenance. Here are some tips from UC Marin Master Gardeners:

  • Check gutters, roof, eaves, vents, and chimney for leaf and needle litter.
  • Remember to clear branches 10 feet from the roof.
  • Beyond 5 feet from all structures, apply composted wood mulch chips to feed the soil, control weeds in the spring, control soil erosion and enhance the appearance of your garden.
  • Separate wood mulched areas with noncombustible materials such as granite, gravel and stone to create fuel breaks, discouraging fire from traveling along a continuous path.
  • Rake-up and compost or remove fallen leaves and evergreen needles. The spots where leaves collect are where embers ignite a fire.
  • Remove dead vegetation and dry grasses.
  • Prune or remove plants to eliminate fuel ladders and to separate shrubs.

 Questions about creating a fire-smart landscape? Visit http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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Climate, Environment and Wildfire Coalition

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As wildfires surged in 2017 and 2018 those of us in the climate and environmental community focused on the connection between wildfires and climate change. We noticed heat waves, melting snow earlier in the spring, alarming rise in state’s average temperature, and prolonged drought. Scientists agree that climate change has increased the length of the season and the frequency of extreme weather events. 

A leading climate scientist at University of California, Merced, estimated that the frequency of extreme wildfires would increase by nearly 50 percent if global greenhouse gas emissions continued at a high rate. At the same time other environmental organizations were raising concerns about the impact of wildfires on biodiversity and the ecology of Marin’s vegetation landscape.

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Biomass Recovery Study

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A working group of the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority/Ecologically Sound Practices Partnership has started a Biomass Recovery study, working in concert with resource haulers and processors, to identify responsible ways to manage the increased amounts of organic material being generated by both wildfire prevention activities and curbside collection programs. The Biomass Recovery study is based on the solution/proposal endorsed by Drawdown: Marin, a county-wide campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically and prepare the County for climate change impacts.

With the passage of Measure C and formation of the MWPA we are anticipating considerable growth in biomass generation. PG&E wildfire prevention plans call for hugely expanded tree trimmings and removal. Landowners costs for vegetation management are mushrooming.  Options are limited or unknown. The costs of transporting the woody biomass are substantial and the systems for handling are burdened.

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UC Marin Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip

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Water Wise and Fire-Smart. 

Water is a precious resource in our drought prone climate. So, water wisely and make your garden fire-smart. Here’s what you can do:

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