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Fire Clearance aka “Defensible Space” in the Village

Staff works year-round with the Orange County Fire Authority OCFA to create and maintain “defensible space,” a term used in the context of wildfires—particularly in relation to the wildland-urban interface. This defensible space reduces the risk that fire will spread from one area to another, or to a structure, and provides firefighters access and a safer area from which to defend a threatened area.

In the Village, defensible space is divided into two areas: wild land and interior slopes. The wild land areas are adjacent to Gates 10 and 11. In these areas, the goal is to remove vegetation adjacent to the boundary walls. The property adjacent to the Village is protected land managed by the Nature Conservancy. Staff worked with OC Parks and the Conservancy to gain access to the land; we performed mandatory wildlife studies and area monitoring, enabling us to remove a 30-foot band of vegetation directly adjacent to the border walls to create the defensible space. This work was completed in August.

The second concept of defensible space is “fuel reduction.” This means plants are selectively thinned and pruned to reduce the combustible fuel mass of the remaining plants. The goal is to break up the more continuous and denser uninterrupted layer of vegetation. This method is being utilized on the interior slopes. The ground cover is cut to a height of 12 inches, the shrubs are reduced to a height of 2 feet and tree skirts are raised to a height of 7 feet. This ongoing work is under contract with Mission Landscape. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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