Off and on in recent months, firefighters have flagged trees, brush and areas to be affected or avoided during upcoming firebreak work in a 4-mile long ribbon of land between urbanized Cambria and the Cambria Pines by the Sea Ranch, which surrounds much of the town’s northern and eastern boundaries.
A lot of the previously placed tagging may have to be replaced, according to Cal Fire forester Alan Peters, because “flagging only lasts a little while.”
Each flag color sends a different message, Peters explained. Pink marks various boundaries, orange alerts workers to save a particular plant or plants and blue delineates stream-protection zones to avoid. Cal Fire is currently developing its strategies for notifying adjacent neighbors about the work. “We sent them all certified letters a few months ago,” Peters wrote in several email interviews, “and if need be, we’ll probably go door-to-door as the time nears.”
What is to happen when is also still a bit nebulous. “Timing depends on when the spring cycles have reached the point when impacts to plants and animals are not likely,” Peters wrote.
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He estimates that prep work and perhaps some hand cutting of French broom could be done in May, with the heavier work, including use of a specialized tractor being done in June.
That tractor, known as a “masticator,” is fitted with a long, moveable cutting arm.
The 48-acre project, being done under a $39,240 contract and with some additional work by Cal Fire, is to remove dense brush and other fire fuels from 100-foot-wide sections of the 1,465-acre ranch along its boundary east of Main Street, adjacent to the Pine Knolls, Happy Hill and Leimert neighborhoods, and along Bridge Street (where fuel-break areas can be 150 feet in width). Some work also is to be done on Camp Yeager grounds on Happy Hill.
The project is to help protect against wildfire both the forest and the homes, businesses and people within the it. Cambria’s protected Monterey pine forest is one of three remaining native stands on the U.S. mainland and one of five in the world.