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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Sep 13

What We’re Doing to Manage Wildfire Risk on Mt. Tam

Posted on September 13, 2018 at 11:25 AM by Ann Vallee

MMWD fire truckMMWD’s Mt. Tamalpais Watershed is the primary source of our drinking water. But our responsibilities on Mt. Tam extend far beyond capturing, storing and delivering water.

As the largest public land manager on the mountain, MMWD has been working for more than 20 years to reduce wildfire risk and help protect our communities. We built and permanently maintain 1,000 acres of fuel breaks, focusing on neighborhoods on the perimeter of the watershed. We’re also working with neighboring property owners to encourage them to maintain 100 feet of defensible space around their homes, including areas that cross the property boundaries into MMWD lands.

Through our Resilient Forests Project, we’re implementing innovative forest management techniques. This includes using light-on-the-land tracked mowers to clear dense underbrush, reducing the accumulated fuel load while also restoring the health of our forests. In 2018 alone, we invested $1 million in contract labor to help manage fuel breaks, forests and invasive weeds on the watershed—equivalent to 20 full-time positions—and we expect to triple that investment over the next five years. In addition, we’re working with PG&E to identify and remove high-risk trees along power lines within watershed lands.

We’ve also invested in firefighting equipment, developed training programs, and conduct regular fire response drills for all our watershed rangers and maintenance staff. We work closely with Marin County Fire and our local fire departments to manage fire risks and respond to emergencies. And we’ve expanded our community outreach for Red Flag and other critical fire weather events through improved signage and social media alerts.

In addition to our work on Mt. Tam, since 1997 we’ve invested more than $100 million in pipeline and other infrastructure improvements though our fire flow program to help ensure our water is there when needed most. All of these efforts wouldn’t be possible without the support of you, our customers. The watershed management fee on your water bill and the fire flow parcel fee on your property tax bill help to fund this important work. Thank you!

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