2021-2022 Evacuation Route Vegetation Management Projects
Central Marin Fire Department, in cooperation with the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority (MWPA) and the Greater Ross Valley Fire Agencies, is pleased to announce several evacuation route vegetatioon management projects beginning summer 2021. Work will occur in the public right-of-way and on private property belonging to adjacent landowners between August 1, 2021 and January 31, 2022. Additional details and maps are available on the current projects page.
These projects aim to reduce hazardous vegetation fuels, including dead wood and debris, hazard trees and remove invasive, non-native, and fire-hazardous vegetation adjacent to fire access roads, emergency egress roads, and below power lines. The projects will increase horizontal and vertical clearances around roadways to improve the safety of evacuating residents and for fire apparatus access that will benefit multiple neighborhoods and hundreds of homes in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) surrounding the project area.
Marin County voters passed Measure C in 2020, which established a 17-member Joint Powers Authority, the MWPA, to fund and oversee proactive state-of-the-art wildfire prevention and preparedness efforts within Marin County. Members include several cities and towns, fire protection districts, and community service districts. The MWPA was formed to develop and implement a comprehensive wildfire prevention and emergency preparedness plan throughout almost all of Marin County. This project is a Core Project that is funded by and within the purview of the MWPA. Core Projects include those projects that focus on wildfire detection, notification, and evacuation; vegetation management and fire hazard reduction; grants management; and public education.
Purpose and Need
The purpose of these projects are to improve evacuation and ingress/egress routes throughout Corte Madera, Larkspur, and Greenbrae and all communities in the Central Marin Zone. The projects will reduce heat, flame, ember, and smoke impingement on roadways and nearby structures, which will enable safer and more efficient evacuations for residents. Removal of vegetation along roadways will also increase access for emergency responders while reducing cover of invasive weeds and maintaining the health of native vegetation and habitat.
Vegetation treatment and removal will target invasive, non-native, and fire-hazardous vegetation and accumulated dead biomass along the roads. Treatment activities will typically involve vegetation removal within 10 to 30 feet from the road edge and vertical vegetation clearance up to 15 feet to allow safe ingress and egress of emergency personnel and residents. Vegetation removal may occur up to 100 feet from the road edge where topographical or vegetation fuels require greater treatment distances for the safe evacuation of residents. Areas where fuel treatments may need to extend beyond 30 feet will be determined by a qualified professional who understands forest ecology and fuel management or a fire professional, prior to treatments. Treatments will include the removal of invasive, non-native, and fire hazardous vegetation and accumulated dead biomass along roads.
Hazardous trees (e.g., structural hazards, dead trees) identified by an arborist or qualified fire person within 10 to 30 feet of the roadway will be removed as well as fire-hazardous trees up to 6 inches diameter at breast height (DBH). Typically, hazard trees will be removed as part of clearance for ingress and egress and ladder fuel removal. This vegetation will grow back and may be retreated as needed.
Vegetation will be removed using manual and mechanical hand tools. The equipment and tools that will be used include chainsaws, pole pruners, bucket trucks, weed eaters, and broom pullers.
Retain Native Plants
When removing vegetation, the project will focus first on removing invasive and highly flammable species, and dead or diseased vegetation. The goal is to retain beneficial, low-fire risk native plant species whenever possible, while reducing fuel volume.
CEQA Categorical Exemption Summary
The Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority (MWPA) has determined that the Central Marin Zone Evacuation Route Core Project (project) is categorically exempt under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines Section 15304, Class 4, for minor alterations to land, and Section 15301, Class 1, for Existing Facilities. A Class 4 exempt project consists of minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation that do not involve removal of healthy, mature, scenic trees except for forestry or agricultural purposes. A Class 1 exempt project consists of the operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing, or minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities, mechanical equipment, or topographical features, involving negligible or no expansion of existing or former use. The project will involve vegetation trimming and removal along roads identified as key routes used for evacuation and ingress/egress in central Marin County. The scope of the project is consistent with a minor alteration to the condition of the vegetation along the routes and maintenance of the existing roadways shown in Figure 1.