For its 2018 Fire Fuel Reduction Action Plan, the Department of Regional Parks has lined up sheep and goat grazing contracts, is maintaining firebreaks and has partnered with Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and Sacramento Fire Department for targeted range management burns with coordinated Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District permits.
SMUD, Western Area Power Administration and PG&E are also working in concert with Regional Parks to reduce fuels where major transmission lines intersect the American River Parkway. The utilities have annually entered the site throughout fire season to address noxious weeds, fuels, and trees growing close enough to powerlines to pose a potential fire hazard.
As the weather warms, the tall, dense grasses and vegetation will be drying out and creating extreme risk in many areas of the 23-mile American River Parkway, as well as Dry Creek Parkway, Mather Regional Park, and Rollingwood Open Space.
“The range management burns will be highly coordinated and used when they allow for the best outcome in effectively reducing fuels. All of the Plan’s proactive measures will help reduce the number and severity of uncontrolled, catastrophic fires in our Regional Parks that threaten wildlife habitats, mature trees, riparian areas and public safety,” said Director Jeff Leatherman, Sacramento County Regional Parks.
To decrease the number and size potential of wildfires in our parks system, the techniques used will be applicable for each area and will include:
- Firebreaks – A combination of mowing, soil discing, and targeted herbicides will be used where appropriate to create perimeters around open fields, along fence lines and behind neighborhoods. This work is scheduled to be completed by end of June.
- Ladder Fuel Hand-Crews – In limited, hard to reach areas, hand-crews will remove vegetation that allows the potential for a fire to climb up or move into urban areas.
- Grazing – There are hundreds of acres of undeveloped or protected land in our Regional Parks. This vegetation can be a costly and deadly fire hazard. Goats and sheep are ideal for vegetation management and make fast work of eating down weeds, bushes and grass. Grazing is expected to occur between May and the end of June, with roughly 5,000 sheep/goats grazing at various locations along our Parkways and open spaces. By the end of June, the sheep/goats are expected have grazed roughly 625 acres in Sacramento County.
- Range Management Burns – In some areas, Range Management Burn are the most effective tool against catastrophic wildfires. The ability to burn certain areas under very controlled circumstances (low temperatures/wind, higher humidity, air quality monitoring) allows for the best outcome in effectively reducing fuels and continued fire danger. Along with closely monitoring the conditions, nesting bird surveys will be conducted in the areas of the pending range management burns. The burn permits outline specific weather and air conditions that must be met before the range management burns will be authorized. The burns should conclude by June 30, but may resume in fall, if necessary.
- Annual Encroachment Permits – Residents who live adjacent to Regional Parks properties are able to apply for free annual encroachment permits to maintain a fire break behind their property line. These allow residents to string-trim grass and weeds for up to 50 feet beyond their private property line. To request a permit, provide your name, address and contact information to Regional Parks at parksinfo@SacCounty.net.
The objective of the Department of Regional Parks is to provide safe, accessible and clean recreational facilities for park users while maintaining more than 15,000 acres of parks throughout Sacramento County.