The 3-mile long Old Ridge Road was once a wagon road. It runs along the crest of the ridge between Dry Creek Road and Mount Veeder Road and separates the Dry Creek Watershed from the Pickle Canyon Watershed. After a major fire in 1945, the Old Ridge Road became part of a network of fire roads established to improve access for firefighters in the steep wild hills. But these old fire roads have not been maintained since 1985 and are now overgrown and ineffective.
The Mount Veeder Fire Safe Council wants to convert the Old Ridge Road, and eventually several other old fire roads, to shaded fuel breaks. Thinning the vegetation in a band along both sides of the old road will reduce the ladder fuel and reduce the intensity of a fire. It will also greatly improve the effectiveness of air tanker drops. A shaded fuel break along a ridge line could stop a fire at the ridge top and prevent it from moving into the next watershed. (In a shaded fuel break, most trees are preserved; it’s not a clear cut.) This could save your house!
In Spring 2012, the Mount Veeder Fire Safe Council received a $20,000 grant from the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation, using funds from Napa County, to complete the first segment of the Old Ridge Road Shaded Fuel Break. Vegetation removal started at the north and south ends of a small vineyard (itself a fuel break) and extended several hundred yards in each direction.
In Spring 2013, the Mount Veeder Fire Safe Council received a $10,000 grant from the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation to continue the Old Ridge Road project. This second phase is currently underway. Look for this year's Open House to showcase the most recently completed work.
The Mount Veeder Fire Safe Council has drafted a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) that includes an assessment of the wildfire risk in our area and the identification and prioritization of key fuel reduction projects that will reduce that risk. A completed and certified CWPP will enable us to apply for funding for our projects.
Addresses: The Fire Safe Council is discussing how best to assist residents in obtaining and installing reflective green and white address numbers that can easily be seen by emergency vehicles from either direction and even at night. Watch this space for more information soon.
Shaded fuel breaks: Some of the old dirt roads in this area run along ridge lines. With moderate vegetation removal they could become very effective shaded fuel breaks that would limit the spread of wildfire and also provide improved access and egress in case of emergency. The draft CWPP identifies some high priority roads that would be among the first projects to be undertaken if funding can be obtained.
Road numbers: In Spring 2010, in cooperation with the Napa County Department of Public Works, we repainted the block numbers on the county roads. They had become almost illegible, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to find addresses.
The Cove: The Cove Girl Scout Camp is a 160-acre property below Mount Veeder peak that contains a 12-acre primitive camping area. Dead and dying trees and extensive ladder fuel around the camping area made the site highly hazardous. The narrow access road was surrounded by overhanging branches, dead trees and extensive brush. In Spring and Summer of 2010, in collaboration with Fire Smart Defensible Space, Cal Fire and the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation, the Mount Veeder Fire Safe Council developed and executed a vegetation management program for this site. Dead trees were cut down by a professional tree removal company. Dead wood and brush were removed by crews from Cal Fire’s Delta Conservation Camp. Davey Tree and the Girl Scouts of Northern California provided chipping. A second egress route was developed. This site is a great example of how wildland fire safety can be significantly improved without destroying the beauty and diversity of the forest.
Property Fire Hazard Assessments: Don Gasser of Fire Smart Defensible Space was commissioned to perform fire hazard assessments of every property within our area. Over the course of several months, he was able to visit approximately 80% of the parcels and evaluate them for fire risk, including address visibility, access roads, defensible space and structure flammability. This information was compiled into a database that is being used in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan to identify the areas of greatest fire hazard and to develop strategies for reducing fire risk.