With torrential rains soaking the Bay Area at the start of 2023, wildfires are not top-of-mind for many. However, work to increase our lands’ resilience to wildfire is a long-term commitment that requires perpetual diligence.
In 2020, Midpen joined the San Jose Water Company, Santa Clara County FireSafe Council and Santa Clara County Parks to form the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative. This highly cooperative group was brought together to take a holistic look at forest health over nearly 1,000 acres in the Los Gatos Creek Watershed.
Together, we are committed to improving forest health by focusing on creating ecosystem resilience, mitigating wildfire risk, protecting sensitive native and endemic species and habitats, and protecting the drinking water in Lexington and Elsman reservoirs which supply water to over 100,000 residents.
“This is critically important work that can help reduce wildland fire severity and risk in our region,” Midpen Field Resource Specialist John Holback said. “This collaborative shows the region’s commitment to increasing our land’s resilience to fire as we work together.”
The project was made possible by a $7.5 million grant awarded through Cal Fire’s Forest Health Program. Work is expected to be complete by spring of 2025. More than 350 acres of Midpen property are in the treatment zone including approximately 245 acres within Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve and 108 acres across Long Ridge, Saratoga Gap, and Sierra Azul open space preserves.
Botanical and cultural resource surveys were completed prior to the onset of forest health and vegetation management activities, as prescribed in our Wildland Fire Resilience Program.
In late 2022, Midpen crews began overseeing work in the watershed, including thinning of underbrush, removal of some non-native species and smaller trees to meet forest health and wildfire fuel management goals in and around Midpen’s Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve.
Future work will include the reforestation of several former tree farm plantation areas with native trees and invasive species control.
Learn more about Midpen’s Wildland Fire Resiliency program at openspace.org/fire.