From our partner agency MMWD Report: What We Are Doing to Manage Wildfire Risk on Mt. Tam
Report from the Marin Municipal Water District –
The Mt. Tamalpais Watershed is the primary source of the drinking water supplied to the county by the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD). But MMWD responsibilities on the mountain extend far beyond capturing, storing and delivering water.
As the largest public land manager on Mt. Tam, MMWD has been working for more than 20 years to reduce wildfire risk and help protect our communities. They built and permanently maintain 1,000 acres of fuel breaks, focusing on neighborhoods on the perimeter of the watershed. MMWD also coordinates with neighboring property owners to encourage them to maintain 100 feet of defensible space around their homes, including areas that cross the property boundaries into MMWD lands.
Through the Resilient Forests Project, MMWD is implementing innovative forest management techniques. This includes using light-on-the-land tracked mowers to clear dense underbrush, reducing the accumulated fuel load while also restoring the health of our forests. In 2018 alone, they invested $1 million in contract labor to help manage fuel breaks, forests and invasive weeds on the watershed – equivalent to 20 full-time positions – and expect to triple that investment over the next five years. In addition, MMWD works with PG&E to identify and remove high-risk trees along power lines within watershed lands.
They have also invested in firefighting equipment, developed training programs, and conduct regular fire response drills for all watershed rangers and maintenance staff, working closely with Marin County Fire and our local fire departments to manage fire risks and respond to emergencies. MMWD has expanded community outreach for Red Flag and other critical fire weather events through improved signage and social media alerts.
In addition to the work on Mt. Tam, since 1997 MMWD invested more than $100 million in pipeline and other infrastructure improvements though our fire flow program to help ensure our water is there when needed most. All of these efforts wouldn’t be possible without customer support, as the watershed management fee and the fire flow parcel fee on property tax bills help to fund this important work.
Editor’s Note: This content represents the words and content supplied by our partner agency. As such, views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.