Projects to Improve Forest Health, Reduce Fire Risks Planned in Two County Parks

Updated Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Work will begin this summer in Huddart and Wunderlich county parks to reduce wildfire risks and improve forest health and community safety through a partnership of the San Mateo Resource Conservation District (RCD) and San Mateo County Parks with funding awarded the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) as part of the California Climate Investments Program.

During the next two years, 402 acres will be treated—218 acres in Huddart Park and 184 acres in Wunderlich Park. Both sites are located in the wildland-urban interface where forestland abuts private residences. 

“There is a significant amount of fire fuel in the county park system which includes trees impacted by Sudden Oak Death and drought, and invasive species that can create overly dense forests,” said San Mateo County Parks Director Nicholas Calderon. “Our collaboration with RCD and funding for these projects through CAL FIRE are critical as the region takes action to address these conditions and improve the safety of county residents.”

Experienced work crews will thin forest floor vegetation and remove trees that are dead, diseased, and those up to 8 inches in diameter, to reduce fire fuel. Tall, dense brush will also be cleared along park boundaries, fire roads and residential roads which is key in maintaining community evacuation routes and supporting emergency response and fire-fighting activities. With less burnable material on the ground, a fire is less intense and the risk of wildfire spread is decreased.  

“These projects are vital to protecting our local forests. The 2020 CZU fires showed us that fire knows no borders. Forest management at Wunderlich and Huddart county parks will improve the health of these forest ecosystems, enhance their resistance to catastrophic fire, and help our communities be safer,” said Kellyx Nelson, executive director of the San Mateo RCD. Vigorous forests can store an estimated 13,500 metric tons of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

These projects are vital to protecting our local forests. The 2020 CZU fires showed us that fire knows no borders.
~Kellyx Nelson, San Mateo RCD

Last year, the Resource Conservation Districts of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties were awarded two grants totaling $5.3 million for a collaborative regional effort to reduce wildfire fuel loads over 968 acres of forest and to reforest 80 acres of private and public lands across the Santa Cruz Mountains. The grants are among 17 awarded statewide by CAL FIRE for large scale land management projects intended to restore and maintain health forests, conserve working forests, and enhance carbon storage. Funding comes from California’s Cap-and-Trade Program, a component of the state’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Recognizing that some park visitors may be surprised when dense growth is thinned and sunlight begins peeking through well-established trees, RCD and San Mateo County Parks will host programs to educate people about how these projects benefit the parks they love and their communities.  

On April 8 and June 10 we held a webinars to explain more about forest health and fuel reduction projects in Huddart and Wunderlich Parks and to answer questions. View recordings of these meetings:

San Mateo County Parks manages 24 parks, trails, and historic sites to preserve public lands and provide opportunities for education and recreation. The system’s properties include parks, preserves, trails, and historic sites located throughout San Mateo County and encompasses more than 17,000 acres.

The San Mateo Resource Conservation District is a local hub for conservation efforts, helping landowners and managers protect, conserve and restore natural resources. Learn more at www.sanmateoRCD.org.

The Huddart and Wunderlich forest health and fuel reduction projects are  funded by California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment– particularly in disadvantaged communities. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at: www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.

Learn more about San Mateo County Parks' Forest Health & Community Safety Initiative »

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