Friday, February 20. 2009
wildbird in Laws & Regulations
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[This note from Kay Stewart, Landscape architect and native plant activist, was posted to the CNPSSD listserv. It is reprinted with her permission. This is a terribly important issue, and not just for greenies. If your house is in the potential path of a wildfire you should be paying attention and not just trusting your government to do the right thing.]
We were talking about starting to list inconsistencies in the City of San Diego's Brush Management regulations and the fact that if you apply one, you end up with very different outcomes than if you apply the other:
Please open the Fire and Emergency Dept. Clarification FPB Policy B-08-1.
Now please open the Bulletin #1 Guide.
This means that in coastal sage scrub, or maritime succulent scrub, where most of plants are 4' or shorter, the end result will be 12" high hat racks standing in the groupings, with 6" stumps between them. I think type conversion seems likely, what do you think? Monitoring will tell; but by then three more years will have passed, and several thousand more acres gone to weed, if that is true.
So, though I didn't realize it, I had made a choice without thinking about it: I've been using the Clarification as my guide. Maybe those who wrote the regulations would say I chose the wrong one. But perhaps I chose the rule that makes the most sense. Why should taller vegetation types be left with groupings of viable plants, but shorter plant communities be guaranteed to be destroyed? Why would the policy encourage type conversion of the shrubs that could suppress highly flammable weeds which grow much taller than the native shrubs will, and which pose much more danger to homes as a result?
Maybe, also, I was trusting that Bulletin #1 reflected a City policy that really does care about the quality of the wildlands, as it says on page 2 about the concerns in creating Zone 2, that it is to be done "...without harming native plants, soil or habitats, as described on the reverse side of this Bulletin."
p.s.: I just saw the below (verbatim) on the Fire and Emergency Services website. After you read these, I wonder, does anyone else besides me wonder what is going on? Since when did Brush earn the title of "the predominant native plant community"? What does the age of a plant have to do as a measure of flammability? When was this written and who wrote it? Can we find out?
"Brush" is the predominant native plant community in the canyons of Southern California. When adjacent to homes, brush management is required to protect the the homes from wild fire. Inspections of brush-covered areas adjacent to buildings are performed on a complaint basis only.
The predominant plant community in the canyons of southern California, comprised of shrubby plants that have adapted to dry summers and moist winters.
Fire Resistant Plants
A plant that is less flammable than another containing the same amount of fuel. This can be a consequence of the live-to-dead fuels ratio, the oil and resin content of the foliage, the percent of fuel moisture, or the age of the plants
[Kay also asked that I add the following]
The City of San Diego is trying so much harder to preserve native plants than most juriscitions. Unfortunately, the regulations have contradictory instructions. I and others hope to bring these contradictions to the attention of the City, and then work with legal and other writers so clear guidelines result. I sincerely hope they will result in WUI low-fire-risk zones with more slow-growing native shrubs being left to suppress exotic fast-growing weeds.
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