Defensible Space

Homeowner Defensible Space Program

Developed properties in communities within the wildland-urban interface, including homes and businesses, are required to implement and maintain rigorous standards for defensible space. The Homeowner Defensible Space Agreement is designed to work with local homeowners whose home is adjacent to National Forest System lands. The program allows individuals to conduct fuels reduction treatments on National Forest System lands to improve defensible space around their home. This program is specific to National Forest System lands within the Angeles National Forest only and is administered by the U.S. Forest Service, Angeles National Forest.

Homeowner Agreement & Guidelines for Defensible Space/Fuel Reduction

Who can participate in this program?

Any homeowner or tenant who lives in or owns a structure adjacent to the National Forest boundary that needs to conduct fuel reduction treatments on National Forest System lands to improve defensible space around their home in order meet state and local defensible space laws and/or ordinances.

How it works:

  • Interested homeowners need to contact the U.S. Forest Service, Angeles National Forest, within each of the following Ranger Districts
  • San Gabriel Mountains National Monument – (626)355-1251
  • Los Angeles River Gateway District – (818)899-1900
  • Angeles National Forest Headquarters located in Arcadia, CA – (626)574-1613

Homeowner Defensible Space Agreements will be issued, at no cost, to landowners who request them, after Forest or Forest approved personnel visits the property to establish treatment boundaries, survey for special status species and select applicable measures to limit environmental impacts.

  • Requests for agreements are recommended by February 1st annually to allow Forest Service personnel enough time for surveys for botanical species.
  • The Forest Service will make an appointment with interested homeowners to meet on site to explain the details of the agreement.
  • The local fire district may also conduct a defensible space evaluation prior to or during the site visit.
  • The Homeowner Defensible Space Agreement allows a homeowner to conduct low impact defensible space treatments on National Forest System lands. These activities include removing brush, pine needle, and surface litter, pruning trees (specific guidelines are provided in the agreement).
  • The approved treatments are similar to yard cleanup activities that a typical homeowner would undertake annually to comply with existing state and local defensible space laws and/or ordinances.

Guidelines

The following guidelines and PAL requirements are for homeowners to use while implementing hazard reduction treatments to meet PRC 4291 and are extending treatments on Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. It is the responsibility of the individual operating on public land to know the PAL level for the day and to take the correct fire precautions.

graphic show defensible space requirements

Before starting your treatments review these guidelines:

  • Do all yard maintenance that requires a gas or electric motor before 10 a.m., not in the heat of the day, or when the wind is blowing.
  • Lawnmowers are designed to mow lawns. Never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.
  • Use a weed trimmer to cut down dry weeds and grass.
  • Remove rocks in the area before you begin operating any equipment. A hidden rock in grass or weeds is enough to start a fire when struck by a metal blade.
  • Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup.
  • Keep the engine free of oil and dust, and keep the mower free of flammable materials.
  • Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you won’t even see until it’s too late.
  • Don’t pull off into the dry grass or brush.
  • Keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 immediately in case of a fire.

Spark Arresters: USDA Forest Service approved spark arresters are required on all internal combustion engines. Heavy equipment that is diesel and turbocharged are exempt from this requirement. All vehicles such as dump trucks that are licensed and otherwise registered for highway travel are also exempt from the spark arrester requirement.

Project Activity Level - PAL is a scientifically-based "decision support process" to provide a fire precautionary system for industrial operations on National Forest lands in California. The goal is to balance the reduction in the ignition risk of large damaging wildfires with the accomplishment of resource (forest projects) management activities. PAL is a danger-rating climatology-based system. It considers the effects of weather conditions for the last 30-45 days and overall seasonality.

Each homeowner under an agreement, will be advised which weather station to monitor their PAL levels and written on the agreement. To find out the PAL level for the day call: 661.723.2752

Defensible Space Program PAL Levels
A Approved spark arresters are required on all internal combustion engines. Shovel and/or working fire extinguisher or 1/4 inch garden hose required. Patrol area after activities are completed for the day.
B Approved spark arresters are required on all internal combustion engines. Shovel and/or working fire extinguisher or 1/4 inch garden hose required. Patrol area after activities are completed for the day.
C Approved spark arresters are required on all internal combustion engines. Shovel and/or working fire extinguisher or 1/4 inch garden hose required. Patrol area after activities are completed for the day.
D Approved spark arresters are required on all internal combustion engines. Shovel and/or working fire extinguisher or 1/4 inch garden hose required. Patrol area after activities are completed for the day.
Ev All hazard reduction treatments for Defensible Space prohibited.
E All hazard reduction treatments for Defensible Space prohibited.

Red Flag Warnings: If a Red Flag Warning is issued (despite the PAL Level), ALL work will cease and be suspended until the Red Flag warning is canceled and the Forest Service approves a resumption of the project. Project activities may be shut down by the Forest Service at any time due to changes in weather conditions, active fire in the area, local resource drawdown conditions, and/or any violations of any project requirements.

Fuels Program Logo





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/angeles/home/?cid=fseprd604638