Vegetation clearing along Moody-El Monte Road, a crucial wildfire evacuation route for Los Altos Hills residents, could commence later this summer or during the fall, a local fire official told the Town Crier last week.
The project involves 119 properties located on a 3.5-mile stretch of road from the intersection of Moody and Page Mill roads to Stonebrook Drive, according to J. Logan, general manager of the Los Altos Hills County Fire District, and a Santa Clara County FireSafe Council summary description. By road hardening – reducing hazardous fuels such as woody vegetation, brush and shrubs – the route will improve access to Interstate 280 should an emergency occur.
“We are not proposing a ‘moon scape’ but (to) retain the shaded overstory of tall trees while (removing) flashy and dead fuels at the ground and understory,” Logan wrote last week in an email to the Town Crier. “In general, a wider treatment area with reduced vegetation fuels provides better protection against roadside ignitions and slows potential fires. We aim to have a very high participation level.”
Hills property owners must grant the FireSafe Council, a Saratoga-based nonprofit, access to their properties for the work to take place, Logan said. Should they decline, the project will proceed around their land. The FireSafe Council also must secure permission from the Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department, as the targeted vegetation is located within that entity’s right-of-way.
Advance notice about the project’s start will arrive in the form of letters mailed to residents, signage alerting motorists and cyclists to traffic modifications and possibly neighborhood meetings, Logan said.
The project is listed as one of six goals within the Los Altos Hills County Fire District’s 2021 Strategic Plan: “mitigate risk and build community resiliency through integrated hazardous fuel reduction, protection and prevention programs.” It is funded by $400,000 set aside for “shaded fuel breaks” as part of the district’s fiscal year 2021-2022 budget.
Although the FireSafe Council provided similar treatments in 2020 and 2021 to sections of Page Mill Road overseen by the district, this will be the first time the council hardens Moody-El Monte Road.
To view the project scope and download a “right of entry permit” form, visit sccfiresafe.org/projects/moody-evac-route.
Fire forums & brush cleanups
As California’s fire season continues, the Santa Clara County Fire Department has organized a series of free online forums designed to help residents safeguard their homes against wildfire.
“Reducing Wildfire Risks in the Home Ignition Zone” is scheduled 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday. “Is Your Home Prepared for Wildfire?” is set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 11.
To register and for more information on these events and others, visit sccfd.org.
Hills residents are also encouraged to take advantage of free monthly brush and yard-trimming cleanups at Foothill College. The town of Los Altos Hills, the fire district and GreenWaste Recovery partner to offer the service every third Saturday. The next cleanup is scheduled 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 21. Transport materials to the main campus parking lot, 12345 S. El Monte Road. Participants must offload materials themselves.