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Fire and parks crews work together to remove specific vegetation from the Douglas Family Preserve

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Douglas Family Preserve in Santa Barbara is getting trimmed up in a program to remove invasive species and to reduce fire dangers.

The project is a collaboration between the Parks and Recreation department, Santa Barbara City Fire and the Ventura Training Center for Cal Fire.

Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department Biologist Monique O'Conner went through the site prior to the project to identify which areas needed to be thinned out and what specific trees and plants were non-native to the area.

Looking over the work she said, the crews " have far exceeded my expectations in what  they could do in two days, they're really going at it."   

This will reduce fire dangers throughout the property.

Santa Barbara City Fire Marshal Ryan Diguilio said, "these folks work hard and they work fast and safe, which is great.  They do way more work than we can do with just a single engine company."

It will also give young oaks a chance to get sunlight and room to grow. O'Conner, said,  "we see some really young oaks intermixed in this Acacia just struggling to survive."

The cut vegetation is being stacked in piles. Next week a contracted chipping operation will arrive. The remaining chips will be spread on the property. The parks department says the vegetation has not gone to seed and it is safe to reuse after chipping on the site.

The target is an invasive species but before anything is taken out O'Conner makes a plan.  "I come out here and thoroughly walk the site flag everything that we want to take out.  It has either red or orange flagging tape on it and then in the morning each day before work we have an environmental awareness training."

The vegetation is piled up where a chipping crew will come in next week.

This project creates new clearances where it had thick overgrowth and it will be a fire deterrent.

 Diguilio said, "we don't want fire  on the ground being able to climb up in the canopy and in the higher elevations."

The project is not opening up new trails, and O'Conner who said,  "you know it is not really creating open spaces for the public. We don't really want them to  sit, camp, and things like that.  It's more about creating spaces so our  oaks and other native vegetation can actually fill in to the new spaces."

This work goes beyond some of the other annual wildland projects you usually see on the Riviera. 

"Luckily we have some funding and personnel that can span that work out in this coastal zone and coastal interior zone and this is an example," said Diguilio.

Funding for the project, in part, is coming from state grants which have been specifically made available for fire prevention projects.

The Douglas Family Preserve is a 70-acre site with ocean views and flanked by residential streets on the Santa Barbara Mesa.

For more information go to: Santa Barbara City Parks and Recreation

(More details, video and photos will be added here later today)

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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