San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit Resource Management

Resource Management

Registered Professional Foresters perform a variety of duties in the San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit including Forest Practice Inspections/Enforcement, Vegetation Management, assurance of CA Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance for Unit projects and emergency response assignments.

Forest Practice

Forested areas occupy a large percentage of land area within the San Mateo - Santa Cruz Unit. The Unit Resource Management staff is tasked by state statute to enforce the California Forest Practice Act and Forest Practice Rules on Timberland in the State of California. Santa Cruz and San Mateo County are both within a special rules district where the only allowable management practice is single tree selection.

CAL FIRE and the other agencies involved in the review of harvesting permits continually look for ways to improve fire safety, hazard reduction, public safety, vehicular access, water sources, timing of operations, and benefits to wildlife in the Timber Harvest Plans under their review. Managed timberland constitutes some of the more active fuels management treatment areas in the unit. Lands utilized for timber management are typically traversed with roads and trails, their use critical during fire suppression operations. During fires such as the Summit (2008) and Lockheed (2009), roads primarily maintained for timber management were successfully used by CAL FIRE for fire suppression operations including control lines.

The Unit reviews and assists in the approval of a variety of forest management permits including 150-foot Fire Hazard Reduction Permits, Timber Harvest Plans, and Non-Industrial Timber Harvest Plans. As part of these permits, operators are required to comply with hazard (slash) reduction rules next to public roads, permitted structures, and throughout the harvest area. Operators are required to maintain firefighting tools during operations within fire season. On average, the Unit reviews and approves an average of two-thousand plus acres per year of timber harvesting plans.


Vegetation Management

The San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit Vegetation Management Program is heavily involved in all aspects of project planning, development, and implementation. The Vegetation Management Program collaborates with local Fire Safe councils, community groups, private landowners and cooperating agencies. In recent years, the program has developed fuel reduction projects utilizing handcrews, mechanical and prescribed fire methods. The CAL FIRE Vegetation Management Program has served both lead and advisory roles in the development of fuels management projects and programs throughout the San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit. There are a variety of methods of treatment prescribed whenever a project is developed. The type of treatment is tailored to each individual project.  CEQA compliance is achieved prior to the start of any project work.  Projects include shaded fuel breaks in strategic areas to lessen potential wildfire intensity, road brushing to improve emergency access and prescribed burns to lessen overall fuel loads and improve ecological processes.

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