Fire Safety Information to Keep Our Forests Healthy and Your Property Safe

Healthy Forest Case Study

Taking part in the Forest Care program, Phil and Sandy Browne were able to make their home more fire-resistant by thinning the live trees on their property.

Healthy Forest Case Study
Thin Is In: Taking Out ‘Green Fuel’

Phil and Sandy Browne own three adjoining lots, totaling about 11/2 acres, in the Angelus Oaks region of the San Bernardino Mountains. A portion of their property lies on a steep slope rising out of a riparian canyon where the brush cannot be cleared. In the event of a fire, the canyon could create a “chimney effect,” driving the fire toward the enclave of houses above. This area is considered vulnerable by fire protection officials. The property was heavily timbered with cedar, oak, spruce and pine.

In 2004, the Brownes thinned the timber and cleared undergrowth on the upper portion of their property as far as the drop-off. But because of the steep slope on the dropoff, the remainder was untouched. In addition, the Brownes were reluctant to have any more live trees removed.

The Plan: After hearing about the Forest Care program sponsored by CAL FIRE and the San Bernardino National Forest Association, the Brownes chose to participate. Under the program, qualified property owners are reimbursed up to 75 percent of the cost of removing live trees (“green fuel”). A forester identified trees and brush that needed to be removed, then the Brownes obtained bids from private contractors and selected one to perform the work last year.

The Result: The Brownes paid $4,100 for 110 small to medium-sized trees (up to 12 inches in diameter) to be removed. They also paid “a little extra” to have the wood cut into smaller pieces and to have some fallen trees removed. The Brownes were reimbursed $3,075 by the Forest Care Program, reducing their out-of-pocket expense to $1,025. Despite their initial reluctance to take out any more trees, the Brownes are glad they did it. “The forest was too thick,” Phil Browne acknowledged. “We like it better now. It opened things up a bit and it also helps with fire protection. We are pleased with the result.”

Working together, we can prevent catastrophic wildfires.