bulldozer cutting a fireline

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A recently maintained fuel break in Rancho San Antonio Preserve stopped a fire from spreading, June 2019Wildland fire prevention, preparation and response are part of Midpen's land stewardship. California’s fire season is now longer and more intense due in part to dense regrowth of historically logged forests, more than a century of fire suppression and a changing climate. To meet these current challenges, Midpen is expanding our environmentally sensitive vegetation management by developing a new Wildland Fire Resiliency Program.

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Wildland Fire Resiliency Program Overview

Development of our new Wildland Fire Resiliency Program is currently underway with a public input and environmental review process. The goals of this new program are to:

  • Protect public safety
  • Reduce wildland fire risk and improve firefighting capabilities and coordination
  • Establish healthy, resilient fire-adapted ecosystems and protect natural resources

The Wildland Fire Resiliency Program has four main elements:

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN: Expanding environmentally sensitive vegetation management into new areas of our preserves beginning in 2020. 

PRESCRIBED FIRE PLAN: Reintroducing prescribed fire to Midpen’s land management toolbox in 2022, in partnership with Cal Fire.

FIRE PRE-PLAN MAPS: Updating and expanding preserves maps that provide critical information to fire agencies responding to wildland fire events.

SCIENTIFIC MONITORING: Collecting data and monitoring to ensure the program is adaptable and meeting our goals.

Ongoing Prevention, Preparation and Response

Firetraining for Midpen staffThough wildland fires seldom start in Midpen preserves, our staff work year-round to prevent, prepare for and respond to fire by: 

  • Maintaining hundreds of miles of fuel and fire breaks and fire roads throughout our preserves, some of which are used as emergency ingress and egress routes for neighbors.
  • Annually training Midpen field staff as fire first responders
  • Outfitting ranger trucks with water pumpers during fire season
  • Reducing vegetation using cattle grazing on more than 8,000 acres on the San Mateo County Coast
  • Enforcing regulations against smoking, fires and guns in the preserves

Current Projects

This year, Midpen expanded our ongoing vegetation management by 250 acres. Local fire departments helped us identify high-priority projects in wildland-urban interface (WUI) to focus on, including:

  • New and maintenance of existing defensible space in Windy Hill Preserve around Hawthorns Mansion and near The Sequoias retirement community in Portola Valley (completed spring 2019)
  • Maintenance of existing fuel break in Monte Bello Preserve along Page Mill Road (completed summer 2019) 
  • New defensible space behind horse paddocks at Bear Creek Stables in Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve (completed Oct. 2019)
  • New shaded fuel break in Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve along Bear Creek Road (beginning fall 2019)
  • New and maintenance of existing shaded fuel break along the Hasslet Trail in Pulgas Ridge Preserve (spring 2019-ongoing)
  • New defensible space in Pulgas Ridge Preserve near Brittan Heights neighborhood (completed fall 2019)
  • New defensible space around residence in Windmill Pasture area of Rancho San Antonio Preserve (beginning fall 2019)

New shaded fuel break in Windy Hill Preserve


Timeline: Wildland Fire Resiliency Program Development

Spring-Summer 2019

Resource mapping, fire science literature review and stakeholder input.

Aug. 2019

Public Meetings: Three community gatherings in Los Gatos, Woodside and Half Moon Bay to collect public input.

Sept. 24, 2019 Public Meeting: Midpen board committee reviewed and provided feedback on program background and development. Agenda and report.

Summer-Fall 2019

Create draft expanded vegetation management plan.

Oct. 28, 2019

Public Meeting: Midpen board committee to provide feedback on draft expanded vegetation management plan, prioritization criteria. Agenda and report.

Spring 2020 TBD

Public Meeting: Study session for public and Midpen board provide to review and feedback on the proposed project scope.

Spring 2020 TBD Public Meeting: Midpen board to consider approving proposed project scope, allowing environmental review process and public comment period to begin. 

Spring-Summer 2020

Environmental review process and public comment period as required by the California Environmental Quality Act. 

Fall 2020

Public meeting: Midpen board to consider certifying environmental impact report and adopting program allowing expanded vegetation management work to begin.


Tentative public input and environmental impact report process for prescribed fire.

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Preparedness: Living Safely with Fire

Fire is a fact of life in California and everyone plays a role in living safely with it. More than 90% of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused accidentally by human activities, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. You play a role by preventing wildland fire and protecting your home:

  • Harden your home against fire, create defensible space around it and have an evacuation plan (local fire safe councils have resources).
  • Sign up for county emergency alerts.
  • Enjoy open space wildlands safely by following smoking, campfire and firearm bans, as well as other public safety rules.
  • Be aware of red flag warning weather when fire danger is highest. Recreate safely so emergency resources are available to respond to fires: stay cool, bring plenty of water, or consider other plans.

Visit CAL FIRE’s Ready for Wildfire website for more detailed information and resources.

Environment: Fire is a Natural Process

Fire plays a role in a healthy natural environment. Many of California native grasses, trees and wildflowers adapted over thousands of years to depend on periodic fire for their long-term survival. These include manzanitas and knobcone pines. Without fire, these plants and the wildlife that depend on them, are lost and replaced with nonnative and often invasive species. Native Americans in California intentionally set periodic fires on the landscape to ensure plenty of food, fiber and medicine. 


Midpen staff work cooperatively with neighbors, fire agencies and regional fire safe councils on fire prevention and preparedness efforts. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is the agency our region responsible for fire suppression. Cal Fire’s role is supplemented by local fire departments (such as Palo Alto, Woodside Fire Protection District, and Santa Clara County) as well as by statewide mutual aid agreements for large wildland fire events.