With fire season upon us, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are taking steps to reduce the amount of potential wildfire fuels, such as dry vegetation, in roadway medians, areas surrounding toll plazas and environmental mitigation sites we protect.
While there isn’t a way to completely eliminate risk, there are many steps TCA takes to prevent and mitigate wildfires. One of the ways is managing vegetation. Heavy rains earlier in the year led to the growth of vegetation along The Toll Roads and within TCA’s environmental protection sites. In the summer, this vegetation dries out and can become fuel for wildfires. By removing dry vegetation, the risk of potential wildfires is reduced and, if fires do occur, they are easier to manage.
TCA coordinates with partner agencies including the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), Natural Communities Coalition (NCC) and County of Orange Area Safety Team (COAST) to clear vegetation and create defensible spaces and buffers. Defensible spaces and buffers serve as areas for first responders to better fight wildfires when they occur.
Another way to clear dry vegetation is through grazing. Earlier this year, TCA’s Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Board of Directors approved a three -year grazing pilot program at the Live Oak Plaza Conservation Area. During the three-year period, cattle will graze the land for short durations a few times per year. Cattle grazing is a great way to reduce dry vegetation, encourage native vegetation growth, increase the use of the land by native wildlife species and limit chemicals used on the property.
TCA is also a member of the Orange County Fire Watch program. OC Fire Watch alerts the public of elevated fire dangers in or near wilderness parks and communities across Orange County. Wildfires are more likely to occur when there are “Red Flag” conditions: strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures. By increasing community awareness during “Red Flag” conditions, TCA and OC Fire Watch help prevent wildfires.
By doing our part to prevent wildfires, we are protecting our community; protecting and preserving wildlife and their native habitats; and minimizing the need for first responders.
To learn how to protect you and your family during wildfire season, check out these tips from OCFA: https://www.ocfa.org/SafetyPrograms/ReadySetGo.aspx.