The marriage of restoration and wildfire mitigation
orchard is in itself habitat, and we regularly see areas that have been restored utilized by local wildlife of all types.”
Metz also pointed out that the mulcher didn’t dig into the soil, so creatures residing or sheltering underground were not disturbed, and that the orchard project affects a very small percentage of the 1,500-acre park, most of which is wildland.
As far as park users are concerned, Metz observed that, during the week the masticator was employed, more than 100 people passed through the area. About half of the folk didn’t seem to notice the work done, and the other half were mostly positive after the purpose of the clearing was explained, Metz said.
The just-completed work also helps create “a significant fire fuel reduction zone” on Sonoma Mountain, according to Metz and Benguerel. The newly treated acreage, coupled with the work done previously by volunteer hand crews and other work completed on the SDC property to reduce fuels along Orchard Road and Redhill Road, will be protective of both the cultural resource — the orchard trees themselves — and the surrounding wildlands. The clearing will, potentially, prevent a wildfire from making a leap into the crowns of trees in adjacent areas.
“The specific benefits CALFIRE saw were a reduction in highly flammable fuels, mainly chamise,” Benguerel explained. “Additionally, the gentle rolling terrain and grass fuel type, along with the added benefit of the reduced fuel loading, makes a fire attack easier in the future. The gentle terrain and existing roads are easily accessible by firefighters, vehicles, and machinery in the event of a fire starting in the immediate area (offensive attack) or coming from a different direction (defensive attack). The heavier fuel types are no longer adjacent to the road but are now much farther away, toward the forested areas.”
Questions about the project should be directed to Metz at (707) 481-6579 or [email protected]