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SAFE Landscapes protects lives, property and the environment

The Issue

Risk of wildfire is one of the critical issues facing California communities that border wildlands. As we were reminded during 2009’s catastrophic Station Fire, wildfires devastate families and communities and damage precious natural areas. Educating homeowners about fire-safe landscaping is one of the most effective ways to increase fire safety, reduce costs associated with property destruction, and reduce the risk of erosion and debris flows after a fire. In addition, wildlands close to communities can suffer if exotic plant species escape from backyards and invade habitat areas. Invasive plants harm habitat and increase the risk of wildfire.

What Has ANR Done?

The UC Cooperative Extension Sustainable and Fire-Safe (SAFE) Landscapes program teaches Los Angeles and Ventura county wildland/urban interface homeowners how to create and maintain fire-safe landscaping around their homes, and take steps to protect the health of neighboring habitat. In particular, the program educates homeowners about the ecological and fire risks posed by invasive plants. UCCE also works with fire agencies, nurseries, and other organizations that provide lists of recommended plants to make sure they do not suggest the use of invasive species. A SAFE Landscape website (http://groups.ucanr.org/SAFE/) and 2008 and 2009 SAFE Landscapes calendars provided information about fire safe landscapes to the public. The calendars included monthly tips to create and maintain fire-safe landscapes, profiled species to avoid, and highlighted the year-round risk by showing the ignition dates of major fires.

The Payoff

Better choices and safer landscapes

SAFE Landscapes calendars were distributed to 49,000 residents in the wildland/urban interface areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through direct mail and at events and workshops. Mail-in surveys were included. Of 241 survey respondents, 80 percent found the calendar useful and 73 percent said the information was new to them. Seventy-three percent planned to save the calendar for future reference. Most importantly, 76 percent reported being more concerned about invasive plants after reading the calendar, 81 percent said they have avoided buying invasive plants, 55 percent said they would change their landscape because of the calendar and 51 percent specifically said they were removing these species from their landscapes.


Supporting Unit: Ventura County

Los Angeles County
Sabrina Drill, Ph.D., sldrill@ucdavis.edu,(323) 260-3404