San Rafael, CA – On April 20, 2023, the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority (MWPA) Board of Directors unanimously approved the implementation of the Greater Novato Shaded Fuel Break – a significant wildfire prevention project within the MWPA 2022-2023 priority work plan. The multi-year mobilization effort will create a continuous, generally 200-foot-wide fuel break that involves approximately 2,120 acres around the entire Novato community at the wildland urban interface (WUI).
“The Greater Novato Shaded Fuel Break is a core project that fits within our ‘Systems Approach’ to becoming a fire-adapted community in Marin,” stated Mark Brown, Executive Officer of MWPA. “The implementation of this 60-mile break surrounding Novato will reduce wildfire risks for thousands of residents by restoring the targeted areas to more natural landscapes and healthier environments. Similar to the Greater Ross Valley Shaded Fuel Break, we will systematically remove dead and dying vegetation as well as non-native vegetation that has accumulated in these areas over time.”
In addition to the extensive fuel break, a WUI fuel reduction program will be implemented on approximately 1,340 acres of undeveloped areas between the fuel break and existing structures. Stretching from the northern to southern ends of Novato, these targeted areas provide opportunities to conduct extensive fuel reduction measures on larger properties.
“The Novato Fire District exists to care for, protect, and serve our communities,” offered Fire Chief Bill Tyler of the Novato Fire Protection District. “These strategic projects are manually implemented to break up large, continuous tracts of dense vegetation with the intention of controlling fire spread. Shaded fuel breaks both enhance forest health and improve fire safety. Additionally, the shaded fuel breaks favorably modify wildfire behavior and help firefighters do their job, protecting the community from fire.”Overall, the methods for creating the fuel break and WUI fuel reduction areas involve crews for manual hand thinning and invasive species removal, precision machinery equipment, and targeted prescribed burning. Approval of the Greater Novato Shaded Fuel Break follows an extensive environmental review analysis that was conducted in coordination with the California Board of Forestry (CAL FIRE) through the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) programmatic environmental impact report (PEIR).To design the project, MWPA staff and Novato Fire District staff worked with mapping and technical experts to perform an extensive model to define the 60-mile project area and prioritize segments based on current fire hazard, consistent with the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)methodology. Additional data and modeling were utilized to calculate reduction in project area fire behavior resulting from the fuel reduction measures.View the full range of individual 2022-2023 Project Proposals found in the workplan on the MWPA website at webportal.marinwildfire.org. The 2022-23 Work Plan can be found here.