Wildfire Prevention

Reducing Risks of Wildfires

The State of California has seen more frequent and more intense wildfires in recent years. This is due to a combination of factors including drought, human activity in areas that border wildlands, longer summers, a history of natural fire suppression, a shortage of water resources, and rising temperatures due to climate change.

What Causes Wildfires?

Firefighters in yellow uniforms walking uphill on dirt trail through forest

A wildfire is an uncontrolled, non-structure fire in the wilderness (such as a forest, valley, or grassland) that can consume a large area rather quickly (Firewise, 1998). Wildfires can be the result of both human and natural activity, with almost 90% of fires in the United States caused by humans. Human activity such as unattended campfires, the burning of trash, and discarded lit cigarettes are several common causes that lead to fires. Natural causes, like lightning and the shifting conditions that come with climate change can also lead to wildfires.

Wildfires can also be a natural process to clear out old vegetation growth and allow for certain fire dependent plants to grow and evolve with changing plant and animal diversity. Check out the Natural Fire Cycle for more information.

OUR APPROACH

The Open Space Authority is taking preventative steps to reduce the risk of wildfires occurring and spreading over the preserves by creating a fuel management plan and policy. This plan will be a part of the Authority’s vegetation management program and will incorporate our resource management goals to enhance native plant diversity and reduce invasive plants.

Strategies include:

  1. Developing a policy and plan that guides how the Authority can reduce fire risk while also protecting and enhancing natural resources.
  2. Using techniques such as conservation grazing and controlled burns to keep vegetation down and eliminate fuels that can feed fires.
  3. Managing and mapping resources such as water sources, roads and staging areas, to help contain fires.
  4. Thinning vegetation along roads so they act as a fire break and making sure roads are maintained so they are accessible to vehicles in case of an emergency.
  5. Working together with agencies such as CalFire, Santa Clara County Parks, and the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council to protect open spaces and reduce wildfire risk.