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Supervisors accept roadside vegetation management program grant, authorize contracts

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the acceptance of a federal grant for a roadside vegetation management program intended to increase wildfire preparedness in unincorporated San Diego County and authorized the issuance of solicitations for contracts.

The 4-0 vote Aug. 29, with one vacant seat, authorized the acceptance of a $1,500,000 Community Project Funds Grant from the United States Forest Service and authorized the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to issue solicitations for vegetation management services. The county supervisors also appropriated $700,000 into the Fiscal Year 2023-24 San Diego County Fire Protection District budget; the other $800,000 will be part of the 2024-25 budget.

In April 2022, the county supervisors authorized the San Diego County Fire Protection District to implement the Roadside Vegetation Management for Evacuation Preparedness Program. The county maintains nearly 2,000 miles of roadway, and nearly 80% of that roadway is in areas designated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as high or very high fire hazard severity zones. The San Diego County Fire Protection District works with the county's Department of Public Works (DPW) to prioritize maintenance along county-maintained roadways which are considered critical evacuation corridors. DPW performs vegetation management to a width of 20 feet from the roadway if that off-roadway area is part of the public right-of-way, and if the county has less than 20 feet of right-of-way DPW coordinates with property owners to pursue additional vegetation management.

The funding prior to the U.S. Forest Service grant allowed for approximately 200 lane miles of critical evacuation corridors to be treated with the expanded vegetation management annually. Since the implementation of the Roadside Vegetation Management for Evacuation Preparedness Program, other community members, Fire Safe Councils and stakeholders have expressed interest in expanding the program to additional evacuation routes throughout the unincorporated area.

The county fire department applied for the USFS grant April 27. The San Diego County Fire Protection District was notified of the USFS intent to award the grant June 29. The funding will expand the vegetation management program by an additional 200 lane miles which will protect nearly 20 communities, 1,500 homes and 4,200 people. The expanded lane miles include 15.89 miles in areas supported by the Fallbrook Fire Safe Council.


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