shown that landscape design is one of the most important factors
in a home's survival. An aggressive defensible space and fuels
reduction plan can greatly increase your home's chance of survivability
in a wildfire without decreasing the aesthetic value of your home.
To create an
effective Firewise landscape, remember that the primary goal is
fuel reduction. To this end, create defensible space zones around
your home. Zone 1 is the closest to your house. Zones 2 and 3
move progressively away from your house.
Zone 1: (0
- 30 feet from residence)
(0-5 feet from residence)
All trees should be removed
No vegetation of any kind should be present
Consider placing decorative rock or gravel around the house
(5-30 feet from
Thin trees to a spacing of 8-10 feet between crowns
Prune trees so that the lowest branches are 8-10
feet above the ground
Standing dead and dead topped trees should be removed
Dispose of all slash and dead, down trees by hauling
off, chipping or piling and burning
Mow grasses to keep them low, a maximum of 6 inches
Plant dispersed firesafe trees and/or shrubs, such
Zone 2: (30
- 60 feet from residence)
trees to a spacing of 8-10 feet between crowns
trees so that the lowest branches are 6-8 feet above the ground
standing dead and dead topped trees
of most slash and dead, down trees by hauling off, chipping or piling
amounts of slash can be lopped and scattered for decomposition
aspen trees in open areas
Zone 3 (60
- 90 feet from residence)
trees to a spacing of 6-8 feet between crowns
is not necessary in this zone
slash by lop-and-scatter, chipping or piling and burning
Recommendations beyond 90 feet
Continue thinning, pruning and slash activities as recommended in
most standing dead and dead topped trees; two per acre could be
left for wildlife as long as the trees pose no threat to structures
or access roads.
Disease Attack Prevention
defensible space and fuels reduction plan will also promote healthy
vegetation in the forest surrounding your home. Insect and disease
attacks such as Comandra Blister Rust, Dwarf Mistletoe, and Mountain
Pine Beetle can devastate an unhealthy, overgrown forest in a very
short time. However, with selective fuels reduction you can promote
tree health and improve growth while inhibiting the spread of insects
Blister Rust is a disease that is caused by
a fungus growing in the inner bark. The fungus has a complex life
cycle. It infects lodgepole pines, but needs an alternate host,
an unrelated plant to spread from one pine to another.
pines, the fungus causes growth reduction, stem deformity, and mortality.
In addition, pines with stem cankers produce significantly fewer
cones and seeds than healthy trees.
Mistletoe is a native, parasitic, seed plant that occurs
essentially throughout the range of western conifers in North America.
It is the most damaging disease agent in coniferous trees, causing
severe growth loss and increased tree mortality.
In the United
States, the principle host of Dwarf Mistletoe is the lodgepole pine.
It is occasionally found on limber and ponderosa pines, Engelmann
spruce, blue spruce, whitebark pine, and Rocky Mountain bristlecone
pines as well.
branches characterize affected trees. These growths, which are
caused by the Dwarf Mistletoe, are called witches' brooms. Dwarf
Mistletoe can cause the tree's growth to slow and eventually the
crown will die. It also reduces the seed production of the host
trees and can cause deformities such as cankers and knots.
Pine Beetle is a member of a group of beetles known as bark
beetles. Except when the adults emerge and attack new trees, the
mountain pine beetle completes its life cycle under the bark of
The beetle attacks
and kills lodgepole, ponderosa, and western white pines. Outbreaks
frequently develop in lodgepole pine stands that are grouped in
dense stands of trees.
widespread tree mortality alters the forest ecosystem. Often, beetles
have almost completely depleted the commercial pine forests. Moreover,
the dead trees that are left after an epidemic are a source of readily
ignitable fuel that will burn unless removed.
Beetle is an insect that infests and kills Douglas-fir
throughout most of its range in western United States. Douglas-fir
beetles normal kill small groups of trees, but during outbreaks
hundreds of infected tree groups are not uncommon. Losses can be
devastating during periodic outbreaks.
At low or endemic
levels, the beetle infests scattered trees, including windfalls
and trees injured by fire, defoliation, or root disease. Where such
susceptible trees are abundant, once they have been infested and
killed, beetle populations can build up rapidly and spread to adjacent
green, standing trees.