A MESSAGE FROM THE GENERAL MANAGER
As winter rains fell short of normal, our area is already experiencing moderate drought conditions, raising the risk of fire much earlier in the season. Ongoing wildland fire prevention, preparation and response are a part of the way we care for lands under Midpen management.
Many factors, including climate change, forests with dense and uniformly-aged trees resulting from historic clear-cutting, more than 100 years of fire suppression and increased development in the wildland-urban interface all contribute to the high fire risk now facing our state.
To reduce wildland fire risk, Midpen has significantly increased our ecologically sensitive vegetation management. The Midpen board of directors recently approved our more robust Wildland Fire Resiliency Program, which builds on prior efforts and expands our fuels reduction work by approximately 600% over the next 10 years.
Additional funding is critical, as the cost of our increased work is projected to be approximately $36 million over the next decade. To date, we have secured more than half a million dollars in grant funding to leverage public funds on several key projects, including removal of invasive and highly flammable eucalyptus trees from a critical community evacuation route on Page Mill Road in partnership with the City of Palo Alto and Santa Clara County FireSafe Council, and a new shaded fuel break in our Coal Creek Preserve in partnership with the California Conservation Corps. We are anticipating an additional $3.59 million in grant funds to be awarded this summer and continue to pursue other grants and opportunities to build our capacity.
According to CalFire, 95% of fires are sparked by human activity, so when weather conditions – warm temperatures, very low humidity and strong winds – are predicted to produce an increased risk of fire danger, the National Weather Service issues red flag warnings. During such warnings, Midpen closes designated areas and prohibits activities that could spark ignitions. High fire-risk activities such as smoking, campfires and firearms are always prohibited; and throughout the fire season, ranger patrol trucks are fitted with water pumpers and staff monitor conditions to quickly report and respond to ignitions.
Ana María Ruiz,