Past Projects

Crooks Mountain Fuel Break
Phases I, II, and III


The Crooks Mountain Fuel Break project broke ground on November 22nd, 2006 and will protect the towns of Ahwahnee, Nipinnawasee, and Oakhurst, as well as other surrounding WUI areas from wildfire. The project is now complete.

This project is a fuel break 11.9 miles long and 300 feet wide running along a ridge from Miami Mountain to Deadwood peak.

The fuel break runs along a semicircle of hills surrounding this WUI area, and will protect the entire area from wildfires. These areas are vulnerable to wildfires coming from the west out of the Chowchilla/Fresno river drainage. This is considered the highest wildfire risk in the region, and has resulted in the Stumfield fire in 1997 (burned 9000 acres) and the Harlow fire in 1961 (burned 51,000 acres).

This area is adjacent to the US Forest Service Sonny Meadows project in the Miami Mountain area, which includes a prescribed burn. This project is the number one priority in the Community Protection Plan for the region and in the CDF Madera/Mariposa/Merced District Fire Plan (where it is referred to as the “Deadwood fuel break”). It is high priority both because of the geographic configuration that invites spread of wildfires, and the high concentration of housing (over 1700 homes), which are vulnerable to such a fire. (The high density of homes is also an increased risk for starting wildfires.) Because the project is so large, it has been broken into three phases.

Phase I is the most important phase of the project, since it covers the area with the heaviest brush and since it is the closest to the Chowchilla drainage, which is the most likely source of wildfire. This portion of the fuel break is also directly adjacent to US Forest Service land on Miami Mountain and to prescribed burns, which are planned by USFS over the next three years as part of the Sunny meadows project, and also intersects BLM land on its other end. It is also in the CDF Madera/Mariposa/Merced District's 2005 Fire Plan.

The project has been developed in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service; the California Dept. of Forestry (Captain Roger Maybee); the Coarsegold Resource Conservation District; and the Chowchilla/Red Top Resource Conservation District. PG&E is also involved and has pledged matching funds. Individual landowners along the firebreak are contributing future year’s maintenance. All of these organizations and individuals recognize the demonstrated fire danger in this area and the benefits of the proposed fuel break. The Madera Fire Safe Council is acting as the coordinator of the project and is responsible for obtaining funding.

The project will start October 2005 and will last 18 months We will complete CEQA EIR modifications as needed. Photo monitoring will be performed on a daily basis during the fuel reduction operation. The crew will clear from 1 to 3 acres/day, depending on the brush density. Clearing on flat areas will be done with a bulldozer; on steeper areas it will be done by hand crews. The cleared fuel will be chipped with a mobile chipper and the chips left in place. The cleared areas will be sprayed with herbicides per recommendation of a licensed state applicator to prevent the brush from regrowth. This followup treatment will take place in the spring growing season after the clearing. Photo monitoring will be continued on a "before" and "after" basis during the project.

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