Defensible Space and You!

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Most areas of the County of Tuolumne share large rural settings of native plant species that surround properties and homes. Defensible space is the required clearance area around a structure where combustible vegetation has been removed to minimize the risk of structural fires. Here are some tips and tricks to maintain your defensible space and help reduce some of your risks before they become an immediate threat:

Zone 1: extends 30 feet out from buildings

  • Remove dead vegetation from your yard, roof, rain gutters, around and under decks, etc.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other tree canopies and 10 feet away from your chimney and roof.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire (ex: patio furniture, wood piles)
  • Relocate wood piles into Zone 2.

Zone 2: extends 100 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal and vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees.
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches.

Plant and Tree Spacing

The spacing between grass, shrubs and trees is crucial to reduce the spread of wildfires. The spacing needed is determined by the type and size of brush and trees, as well as the slope of the land. For example, a property on a steep slope with larger vegetation requires greater spacing between trees and shrubs than a level property that has small, sparse vegetation.

Remove all tree branches at least 6 feet from the ground.

Allow extra vertical space between shrubs and trees. Lack of vertical space can allow a fire to move from the ground to brush to the tree tops like a ladder.