Wildfire Planning

wildfire planning

Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement Project (SCFIP)

Following a multi-year National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that culminated in 2018 with the release a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision, the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) embarked on implementing the SCFIP.

The fuelbreaks are described as “… strategically located, wide blocks or strips on which a heavy fuel loading has been changed to one of lower fuel volume and reduced flammability.” Conversely, a firebreak or fireline has had all vegetation removed. Generally, the footprint of the fuelbreaks fall on ridgetops where bare-earth firebreaks have been constructed by bulldozers during previous wildfires.

The proposed fuelbreaks are designed to serve as anchor points to permit burnout operations that create “black lines” which could slow or halt the spread of wildfire during a wildfire incident. This “indirect attack” method is more frequently employed than “direct attack,” with firefighter safety an important consideration. These fuelbreaks may also serve as anchor points for prescribed fire operations.

In 2022 the LPNF implemented these fuelbreaks in the vicinity of the North Coast Ridge Road. Prior to this, a fuelbreak had been constructed atop Henniksons Ridge for approximately 4.5 miles. In December of 2023, the LPNF began implementing additional fuelbreaks, both in the Ventana Wilderness and on non-wilderness forest lands, using motorized hand tools.

To ensure that the projects are implemented in accordance with the direction provided by the Record of Decision and Situational Reports, the VWA monitors fuelbreak construction and maintenance outcomes with an emphasis on documenting fuelbreak implementations located within wilderness.

Wildfire Risk Reduction Project (WRRP) - formerly the Environmental Restoration Project (ERP)

Following the withdrawal of the original ERP, the LPNF proposed the implementation of a new project, the WRRP. According to the LPNF, it is designed to restore fire-adapted ecosystems, reduce fuels, and reintroduce fire on the landscape by prescribed burning.

The VWA works with the LPNF to promote fire-adapted ecosystems in a manner that preserves and protects the wild character of the Monterey Ranger District (MRD). We have also advocated for the reforestation of native species in certain non-wilderness areas of the MRD. The VWA is closely monitoring the WRRP process and we expect the release of a Proposed Action in 2024.

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