City Efforts to Reduce Wildfire Risk
In late 2020, City Council adopted Santa Rosa’s first ever Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This five-year plan provides a roadmap for reducing the risk of wildfires locally through a variety of recommended strategies. To help fund and implement the recommendations of this plan, the Santa Rosa Fire Department continues to actively pursue many funding opportunities.
Seeking Funding Opportunities to Implement Work of the CWPP
The Fire Department has applied for the following opportunities to attempt to secure wildfire mitigation funding:
Project: Fuel Reduction along Evacuation Routes
Granting Agency: FEMA - Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
Status: Application submitted; FEMA approved Phase 1 – Outreach to begin Summer 2022 to opt resident into the program.
Amount requested: $2.8 million (City has a 25 percent cost share)
Details: Will include the removal and/or treatment of vegetation and fuel along the following evacuation route areas:
- Alta Vista Ave
- Brush Creek Rd
- Calistoga Rd
- Chanate Road
- Cross Creek Road
- Fountaingrove Parkway
- Low Olivos Road
- Montecito Ave
- Montgomery Dr
Project: Wildland Urban Interface Fuel Modification
Granting Agency: FEMA - Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
Status: Application submitted; FEMA approved Phase 1 – Outreach to begin Summer 2022 to opt residents into the program.
Amount requested: $2.1 million (City has a 25 percent cost share)
Details: A Home Hardening and Defensible Space Program -- would be eligible for all residents in the Wildland Urban Interface Area on a first come, first serve basis. The project would fund vent screening and roof gutter guards for structures and defensible space improvements.
Project: Vegetation Management Program
Granting Agency: HCD’s 2017 CDBG-MIT Resilient Planning and Public Services Program*
*The City of Santa Rosa has been allocated $20.1M from HUD (46.7% of the total available to the State for this program) to support the City’s resiliency measures related to emergency management, disaster response, and/or preparedness needs following the 2017 fires. The funds are held in an HCD-managed account and the City must submit individual projects to be approved by HCD for use/drawdown of the funds available to SR.
Status: Application submitted to HCD, approved and now working to fine tune cost estimates.
Amount requested: $500,000.00
Details: This was originally a chipper program and has shifted to an assessment, education and outreach program for residents in the City’s Wildland Urban Interface areas.
Other Funding Sources and City Efforts
PG&E Settlement Funds: During the Feb. 19, 2021, City Council Goal Setting session, the Council provided directions to staff to allocate $8 million of the City’s $95 million PG&E 2017 wildfire settlement funds for the following uses:
- $5.25 million to implement a 5-year Vegetation Management Program using the City’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan as a roadmap to reduce the risk of wildfires locally through evacuation route improvements, community wildfire education, wildfire and evacuation preparedness, structural hardening of the built environment, vegetation treatments to reduce wildfire threat, implementation of defensible space standards and increased staffing dedicated to the wildfire mitigation workload.
- In spring of 2022, Santa Rosa City Council allocated an additional $1.25 million from the PG&E settlement funds to cover the local cost share of the two federal vegetation management program grants.
- $2.75 million for implementation of the Fire Department’s Wildland Resiliency and Response Strategic Plan. Implementation of this plan will provide additional resources to legislative efforts, community engagement and education, and additional wildland firefighting apparatus and equipment to significantly improve the Fire Department’s capacity and abilities to prevent, mitigate, and respond to wildland fires using current staffing and fire stations.
Prescribed Burn – Old Redwood Highway & Mendocino Avenue
On Saturday, June 25, the Santa Rosa Fire Department conducted a prescribed burn on the east side of Mendocino Avenue just north of the Northbound on and off ramps to Highway 101. The burn served as a vegetation management project and training opportunity for firefighters. The burn was conducted between the hours of 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. with a majority of it occurring in the morning hours. Residents experienced smoke in the air during this time along with fire apparatus in the area while the prescribed burn was taking place. This project was a collaboration between the Santa Rosa Fire Department, CAL FIRE, and CalTrans.
These prescribed vegetation management burns are carefully planned and must meet strict criteria for ecological benefit, weather parameters, smoke management, and fire safety guidelines. When all conditions are met, trained wildland firefighters conduct the burn while monitoring the set criteria, fire behavior, and designated fire control lines. The prescribed burn also complied with the requirements of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
What are prescribed burns and how are they helpful?
Santa Rosa Fire uses numerous methods to help reduce the likelihood of severe damage caused by large, devastating wildfires on our lands and in our communities. One of these methods is prescribed burns.
State law defines prescribed burns as a planned application and confinement of fire on lands selected in advance to achieve several identified objectives. Some of those objectives listed are the prevention of high-intensity wildland fires through reduction of the volume and continuity of wildland, vegetation management, and wildlife habitat improvement.
Click on the corresponding FAQ(s) below for more information about prescribed burns.
Yes, prescribed burns are also sometimes referred to as Rx fires, prescribed fires, controlled burns, hazard reduction burns, vegetation management burns, or planned burns.
Not typically. The City of Santa Rosa is surrounded by State Responsibility Areas where CAL FIRE has jurisdiction. Our Department regularly responds to vegetation fires in and Santa Rosa which CAL FIRE, Kenwood Fire Protection District, Sebastopol Fire Department and the Sonoma County Fire District. Based on these working relationships, any of these agencies may be asked to be involved with one of our burns. At a minimum, we plan to have CAL FIRE prevent with us.
There is risk assumed when excluding fire from fire-adapted ecosystems. There is risk, as well, when using fire to obtain ecological and other management objectives. Close evaluation of daily and seasonal weather and fuel conditions, public health, and social and economic considerations—and other important factors—influencing fire behavior and fire effects are integral in determining appropriate place, time, and circumstances to use fire to accrue beneficial fire effects.
The City of Santa Rosa will utilize various communications tools and strategies to notify our community. This will include social media, Nextdoor, door to door notification to locations in the immediate area, and a Nixle text and community message. Generally, there is also a news release to inform the local media who will help spread the message. Roadside signs may also been placed on the property.
Grazing is used in numerous locations across Santa Rosa’s Wildland Urban Interface. Grazing helps reduce the fuel load of vegetation. Prescribed burns consume hazardous fuels that also can included the growth of invasive non-native weed and plant species. It also helps promote and restore healthy native growth that is easier to manage and significantly reduces wildfire risk.