On Tuesday, December 4th, the City Council voted to allow the Fountaingrove II OSMA to maintain the wild areas of Rincon Ridge Park and all of the property commonly known as Parker Hill Park in exchange for keeping the wild portions of the parks in their natural state (not selling the property or developing it into another use) into perpetuity. The benefits to Fountaingrove II, besides keeping the open space areas as open space, are far greater than the cost to maintain these parcels. The City has never been able to properly maintain the properties in a fire-safe manner due to financial restrictions, so having the OSMA take care of the areas makes sense. We already maintain a significant portion of our 200+ acreage, we know how to do it, our crews know how to do it, and the cost will amount to no more than about 5% of our annual budget. It’s a win-win for everyone. The City is relieved of a task that they weren’t able to perform properly, and Fountaingrove II gets to keep the open space in a safe, beautiful and healthy state with minimal effort.
The next item – OSMA crews (Sandborn Tree) will be working in the area we call Firebreaks #3 and #4 (the areas behind Rocky Knoll, Fox Hill, Rincon Ridge and Shelter Glen) to remove excess live or dead Douglas-firs that are too numerous, limb up trees to 10′ above the ground, size permitting, remove dead wood from selected trees and reduce the fuel load of understory plants. Work will also include the removal of some Bay trees that are too close to sizable oaks to try to avoid the spread of Sudden Oak death. All work is prescribed by Urban Forestry Associates, urban foresters who are experts in both fire behavior and forest health. We make sure that any work done in the open space is done to improve the health of our habitat, increase fire safety and promote biodiversity, while maintaining the shaded fuel breaks that are so desirable in a fire danger zone. We also try to protect the soil from erosion problems and have equipment cleaning guidelines in place to try to prevent further spread of Sudden Oak Death. There are some areas in which Sandborn will be able to bring chipping equipment. In areas that are inaccessible, any cut material that cannot be removed will be carefully assembled into “slash piles” that have been designed to be left in place, providing habitat for critters while maintaining a fire safe landscape. This work should be completed by the end of the month, weather permitting.
Soon, we will be consulting with the Hitmen regarding the spraying of some of our Sudden Oak Death-susceptible oaks in the open space and landscaped parcels. Unfortunately, we have lots of Coast Live Oaks and Black Oaks – both of which are in that category. We hope that perhaps with annual spraying of Agrifos on some of our oaks we will be able to save some of those beautiful and very important trees.