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Elk Grove Citizen

Baa-aad News for Fire Fuels

May 02, 2024 10:00AM ● By Sacramento County News Release

Goats receive captions from Sacramento County. Image courtesy of Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - We’ve goat some exciting news for ewe (ok, no more puns)! The Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks​ is gearing up for its multi-pronged efforts to reduce fire risk, defend wildlife habitats and protect our natural resources and the neighborhoods adjacent to the parks. 

For its 2024 Fire Fuel Reduction Action Plan, the Department of Regional Parks has lined up sheep and goat grazing contracts, is utilizing park maintenance crews (and other manned crews through contracts with the California Conservation Corps and Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps) to maintain fire breaks, and is issuing fuel break maintenance permits to properties bordering Regional Park properties.  

“We had another wet winter and a surprisingly wet spring, so we anticipate a similar vegetation situation that we found ourselves with last year,” said Liz Bellas, director of Regional Parks. “As all this vegetation dries out, the fire risk increases, so the work we are doing, and the work our contractors are doing is going to be critical this year.”

To decrease the number and size potential of wildfires in our parks system, the techniques used will be applicable for each area and will include: 

Firebreaks – A combination of mowing, soil discing and targeted herbicides will be used where appropriate to create perimeters around open fields, along fence lines and behind neighborhoods. This work is scheduled to be completed by the end of June. 

Ladder Fuel Hand-Crews – In limited, hard-to-reach areas, hand-crews will remove vegetation that allows the potential for a fire to climb up or move into urban areas. 

Grazing – There are hundreds of acres of undeveloped or protected land in our Regional Parks. Goats and sheep are ideal for vegetation management and are great at eating down weeds, bushes and grass that manned crews cannot get to. Grazing is expected to occur through the end of June.

Annual Encroachment Permits – Residents who live adjacent to Regional Parks’ properties are able to apply for free annual encroachment permits to maintain a fire break behind their property line. These allow residents to string-trim grass and weeds for up to 50 feet beyond their private property line. To request a permit, provide your name, address and contact information to Regional Parks at [email protected]

Additionally, the Ranger Division will continue its increased education and enforcement efforts related to illegal fires and cooking along the parkway in an effort to reduce the number of new fire outbreaks. 

“These efforts have been paying dividends over the last two years,” said Leonard Orman, chief ranger. “In 2023, there were a total of 65 fires in our parks, down from 85 in 2022, and 170 in 2021.”

Visitors to Sacramento County Regional Parks should be aware of the following regulations: Open flame fires are NOT allowed, and barbequing is only permitted in designated picnic areas. Smoking is only allowed in developed picnic areas, asphalt surfaces, golf courses and levee tops along the American River Parkway.

​Visit the Regional Parks website to learn more about the 2024 Fire Fuel Reduction Action Plan for Sacramento County Parks. If you see a fire burning in our Regional Parks, please call 9-1-1.