On the four-year anniversary of the devastating Tubbs and Nuns fires in Sonoma County, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and Pepperwood Preserve are launching the Wildfire Fuel Mapper, a comprehensive toolkit to assist landowners in managing vegetation that may fuel wildfires.
The October 2017 fires, which destroyed nearly 7,000 buildings and left 25 people dead, underscored the importance of wildfire mitigation, community safety and long-term resilience. To prepare for wildfire, the Wildfire Fuel Mapper toolkit connects Sonoma County landowners with resources, professionals, specialists and funding opportunities to subsidize fuel reduction projects.
The only mapping tool available at a parcel scale for the county, the Wildfire Fuel Mapper contains detailed maps of vegetation types and landscape elements that help users assess fire hazards and tailor a plan to manage those fuels.
The tool can be accessed directly by residents and used to map parcels greater than three acres. Wildfire professionals and vegetation management specialists also can use the Wildfire Fuel Mapper to better support their clients.
“When we're working in Sonoma County, we start every project by using the Wildfire Fuel Mapper tool,” said Joel Holland, president of Wildfire Services. “This invaluable tool provides a vital starting point from which to engage and educate property owners.”
A model for other counties?
To access a custom map report, available for download at either a parcel or watershed scale, visit www.wildfirefuelmapper.org.
“The Wildfire Fuel Mapper is designed for Sonoma County, but other counties could create a similar set of resources to help their residents prepare for wildfire,” said Stephanie Larson, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County.
The Wildfire Fuel Mapper is part of a coordinated effort in Sonoma County to better provide the public with accessible maps and prioritization tools to reduce wildfire risk. UCCE is currently collaborating with Sonoma Water to develop a decision support framework – an integrated set of tools, including the Wildfire Fuel Mapper, that will expand to operate at the landscape scale, enabling landowners to make strategic investments in fuel load reduction, vegetation management and climate resilience.
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“This project helps address the critical regional approach we need to assist landowners, watersheds, and agencies to design and implement better vegetation management,” North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire said. “Our county will be more fire safe thanks to UC Cooperative Extension's efforts.”