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Wildfire Prevention

Fear of wildfires has led to clearing of vegetation, scraping of land to bare soil, or the digestion of most plant material by goats in narrow fuelbreaks near homes. This style of management produces a conflict between the safety of human life and property and the health of natural vegetation, and other negative side effects such as soil erosion, landslides, and ugliness. We do not believe this conflict is necessary.

Shelterbelt has pioneered in strategies that maintain the urban/wildland intermix in ways that benefit both natural values and the communities next to them. By countering the spread of invasive plants, reducing and separating flammable biomass, and managing water runoff to minimize erosion and pollution, we aim to preserve wildlife habit health while creating wildfire safety. A holistic maintenance of these interface zones can reduce wildland fire magnitude while encouraging a diverse community of native plants and animals. This work is best accomplished throughout the year, not in a single, last minute attack on fuels during the peak of the fire season. Winter and Spring are important seasons for both fuel-reduction and weed-control work.

Shelterbelt seeks to understand the dynamics of native plants, their natural succession, the influence of exotic weeds, and the needs of human communities. By thinking out each project, we can produce better solutions to cope with wildland-fire hazards. Reducing and separating dead or decadent vegetation, restructuring native plant communities by tweaking or reversing plant succession (brushlands returned to grasslands, as a fire would), reducing exotic weeds, and rethinking horticultural landscaping on private property can create a wildfire safe zone around houses and communities while respecting the native landscape and its beauty.

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