Maintaining fuel zone for T&E species

Maintaining the fuel zone for T&E species

Kim Klementowski1, Deborah Rogers
Center for Natural Lands Management,

Federal- and state-listed species face, in addition to intrinsic threats, a multitude of human-induced threats. One of those, of increasing magnitude and frequency because of development pressures and safety concerns, arises from municipalities requesting installation of fuel modification zones within the wildland-urban interface. These varying local, regional, or state codes are aimed towards protecting life and structures but are rarely science-based and do not reflect native plant conservation concerns or listed species protections such as the Endangered Species Act. With development on the rise and more mitigation lands being set aside for conservation within the urban/suburban landscape, tensions between developments and those with an invested interest in protecting open space will only increase. These islands of habitats may offer the last remaining refugia for a species and may be legally bound by restrictions prohibiting removal of native vegetation, let alone implementation of the classic 30 feet/70 feet fuel modification zone. Despite the seemingly different overarching ideas for how fuel modification zones should or should not be implemented on-the-ground, understandings and solutions can be reached through created partnerships between fire authorities, natural resource regulatory agencies, and local land management entities. Three case studies will be presented on ongoing fuel zone/listed species tensions in California. Each case will reflect the manager’s efforts to interpret these codes; annual efforts to establish and maintain communication with local municipalities; and continuing determination towards requesting science-based, site-specific solutions that protect public safety while ensuring the persistence of protected flora and fauna for future generations.