Santa Barbara- S County

Brush Clearing Program Reduces Santa Barbara Fire Risks

Fire specialists say the aggressive three month effort will save lives and property

Brush Clearing

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A large scale brush clearing project has reduced heavy fire fuels from the Santa Barbara hills, and it will likely save lives and property in the future.

The program in the Wildland Fire Suppression District covers nine areas, mainly above Foothill Rd.  and Alameda Padre Serra.  Residents pay a small fee, of about $70. a year.  For that, crews come through and haul out all the brush, tree limbs, and vegetation as residents can bring to the roadside.

Santa Barbara City Fire Specialist Chris Braden says many areas are much safer today because of the work that's been done since March.   In some cases, the homeowners make a plan with the fire department to save some trees and shrubs but still remove  the "thick stuff" that could cause wildland fires to explode when they come through.

"We want to make sure we give every homeowner in the district a chance to work with us, to be able to improve their defensible space," said Braden. " So when they are clearing it,  they are not removing all of their vegetation and they keep the natives, the oaks."

Large piles of tree limbs have been stacked on many roadside areas over the past three months.  On designated days, a chipping crew has come through to pick up the vegetation and grind it on the spot.

If residents want to use some of the chips for ground cover, it is available for free.

One new property owner saw the work this morning and quickly brought barrels of cuttings to the crew to help reduce  fire dangers around their home.

"I think we really  provide the homeowners with a great service and a huge value with what  they pay," said Braden.

He pointed out a clearing near a home, and nearby, a property with low water use plants, along with fruit trees.  Together it adds beauty to the property but also makes it difficult for a fire to gain energy.  

"As the homeowners maintain this over time, it becomes easier each year," said Braden.

This year the work has taken place in areas including, Parma Park, Las Canoas, West Mountain Drive, Sycamore Canyon, Eucalyptus Hill and the Lower Riviera.

Braden says since 2008, 2500 tons of brush have been cleared from the Santa Barbara hills.

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Slideshow: Brush Clearing Program Reduces Santa Barbara Fire Risks

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