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Wildfire Fuel Mapper helps landowners manage vegetation

The Sonoma County, Calif., toolkit could be a model for other counties to use, Extension official says.

Pamela Kan-Rice, Assistant director, news and information outreach, UCANR

October 11, 2021

2 Min Read
A Sonoma County, Calif., landowner, center, discusses reducing fire hazards on his property by Lake Sonoma with Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension director in Sonoma County, and Mike Jones, UCCE forestry advisor.UCANR

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.

Related: Tribe applies traditional knowledge to fire prevention

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. 

Related: Grazing a tool to control cheatgrass

“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.”

This project is a collaboration between University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)Pepperwood and Tukman Geospatial, with support from PG&E, the Thornton Foundation and CAL FIRE

Source; University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

About the Author(s)

Pamela Kan-Rice

Assistant director, news and information outreach, UCANR, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

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