Following the official declaration by CAL FIRE of fire season on May 28, the East Bay Regional Park District also declares wildland fire season effective in its 112,000 acres of parklands in the counties of Contra Costa and Alameda.
“The East Bay Regional Park District has a major role in fire prevention and protection of park visitors, staff and natural and cultural resources. We have already had our first fire of the year, and our neighboring fire departments are experiencing an abnormally high number of fires. We need everyone to be alert and obey fire danger restrictions in the parklands,” said EBRPD Fire Chief Ken Blonski.
Park supervisors are working with local fire agencies to abate weeds as needed on parklands, and park staff are creating and maintaining a defensible space around all structures. District staff are actively implementing a wildfire hazardous fuel reduction program to improve fire protection on parklands in the East Bay hills and other wildland urban interface areas, as guided by the Board-approved Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan.
Blonski said this year’s decrease in rainfall throughout the bay area counties is drying the grass and vegetation earlier than normal. Late rains have contributed to a significant grass crop. Once these grasses cure, this fuel load could produce intense, fast-moving fires. This will be especially true on dry, windy days in areas where topography also contributes to fire spread. The heavier fuels, like brush, will soon be dry enough to burn actively, and the combination of heavy grass and brush will likely present a challenge to our suppression capabilities.
“We need the public to be aware of fire danger, and to take action to help us protect people and parks this season,” said Blonski.
The Park District offers these park fire safety recommendations:
• Be extra careful with fire. Of the 6,000+ California wildfires every year, more than 90% are caused by people.
• Be prepared for the worst. Have a plan for gathering family members, pets and valuables in case an approaching wildfire requires evacuation.
• Observe and obey the Fire Department warning signs and park restrictions.
Level 1 restrictions are now in effect for the entire Park District. This means parks are open
with the following restrictions in effect: No campfires outside of designated day-use picnic areas, campgrounds or developed recreational areas; and vehicles are restricted to driving only on designated roadways -- no cross-country driving.
In some cases, parks may be closed because of fire danger, and everyone should comply to help prevent fires in our beautiful regional parks. More information is online at http://www.ebparks.org/about/fire/signs