After seven months of tree stand thinning, the East Bay Regional Park District Fire Services Department has completed the first phase of a project to improve public safety along Wild Canyon Road in Tilden Regional Park. Phase 2 began this month.
From February to August of this year, workers thinned dense eucalyptus and pine stands to increase spacing and reduce accumulations of forest litter. They also cut down some large trees overhanging the road with potential of falling over.
The Park District has been conducting fuel management activities for more than 72 years, funded in part by the Park District’s operating budget as well as from various fire hazard mitigation grants under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This project is part of a series in the Park District’s Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan, adopted by the Park District Board of Directors in 2010. To date, work has been done at several Regional Parks, including Anthony Chabot, Redwood, and Sibley.
According to the 2010 Plan, the main purpose of the fuel reduction projects is to “minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfires along wildland-urban interface while ensuring the protection and enhancement of ecological values and resources within the Park District jurisdiction, preserving aesthetic landscape values for park users and neighboring communities.”
According to Park District Fuels Management Fire Captain Brad Gallup, the area treated this year extended 49 acres, from the Tilden Botanic Garden to Inspiration Point along Wildcat Canyon Road. It included several picnic areas and trail heads in the park.
As part of the second phase that started in September, Gallup said that “crews will reduce ladder and surface fuels by limbing up trees, cutting brush, raking accumulated forest litter, and making piles to be burned later.” As with phase 1, the new work along Wildcat Canyon Road will be done with a minimum of disruption. Signs will be posted when burning occurs to alert visitors.
Useful terms: “Surface Fuels” are down logs and low limbs, brush, and collected bark near the base of trees. “Limbing” is the removing, or pruning, of low hanging branches or tree “limbs” with the purpose of creating a shaded fuel break. “Ladder” is the excess growth of branches or peeling bark that have potential for picking up a fire and spreading it up to the crown of a tree, as if climbing a ladder.
The project is funded by the 2004 voter-approved Measure CC and Park District general funds and it is expected to continue for several months.
More information: http://www.ebparks.org/stewardship/fuelsplan
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 114,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,200 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.